Archive for the ‘Life List’ Category

I’m starting the year on the right foot. I’ve already watched a couple of movies to start my annual tally, as well as tried a few new recipes and it’s only the first week of January! ๐Ÿ™‚

I have always had “make fresh pasta” on my life list. Ever since our trip to Italy two years ago, and our return trip last year (love Italia!!!), it’s bumped up on the priorities.

I figured since I don’t own a pasta machine or a stand mixer with pasta attachment, the easiest noodle to make would be ravioli. So I scoured cookbooks and online recipes until I found a recipe that would suit a first timer and had a lot of good reviews.

I ended up following the dough from here, and tweaked the pesto sauce to accommodate what I had on hand and reduce the recipe to 2 servings for my husband and I.

I admit to being a bit nervous. Homemade pasta just seemed so intimidating. But I persevered through my little well of flour and egg mixture, then through the rolling (and rolling and rolling) trying to get the dough as thin as possible. Then adding the filling in little piles on the first sheet of dough, brush with egg wash, cover with second sheet and I used a ravioli cutter but you could easily use a knife or a pizza cutter. Boiled them, then baked them for 4 mins to turn brown.

The filling was delicious with four cheeses: mozzarella, provolone, cream cheese and ricotta. For the sauce, I heated olive oil, added a fresh crushed garlic clove (from my garden last year), a 1/4 cup of my Genovese basil pesto that I froze last summer (and thawed overnight), about a half cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of parmesan. It turned out great (albeit the color was off because I didn’t blanch my basil when I prepared the pesto last summer..serves me right). ๐Ÿ™‚

I was relieved it all turned out and the little pillows were delicious. Wonder what I’ll make next!


Read Full Post »

So here we are – it’s time to plan what I’ll be tackling from my Life List next year. Since we already know where we’ll be traveling to, those will likely get crossed off in 2019. I also have some food-related and skills I want to tackle.

This is the list for next year:

  • Stay in a cabin or lodge in the woods
  • See Lake Louise in Alberta
  • Stargaze in a dark sky reserve (Jasper)
  • Visit Banff, Alberta
  • Visit Jasper, Alberta
  • Drive the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
  • Hike in the Rockies
  • Hike to one of the tea houses in the Rockies
  • Learn to crochet
  • Knit a pair of stockings
  • Knit a shawl
  • Grow a fruit tree
  • Attend a paint & wine class
  • Make yogurt
  • Make cheese
  • Make homemade pita bread
  • Try canning
  • Make fresh pasta

I’ll be keeping my usual “annual” goals but have adjusted (greatly lowered) my reading one since I’ve been spending a lot more time doing other things:

  • Watch 50 movies
  • Cook 30 new recipes
  • Read 10 books

Can’t wait!!


Read Full Post »

I can’t believe it’s the end of another year. It feels like I was just figuring out what I wanted to tackle in 2018 and here we are already at the end of it!

Here’s the summary of what I was able to tackle this year – most were related to our travels:

  • Celebrate 15 year anniversary (2018)
  • Go on a cruise in Europe
  • Visit Santorini, Greece
  • See Kingโ€™s Landing (Croatia)
  • Visit Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Visit St. Markโ€™s Basilica in Venice, Italy
  • Travel to Venice, Italy
  • See Phantom of the Opera
  • Make my own herbal tea

Also increased the counts for these:

  • Go on 10 cruises (9 down, 1 to go)
  • Travel to 50 countries (22 done, 28 to go)

I focused quite a bit on food preservation skills and was able to complete the following:

  • Make freezer jam (blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, peach)
  • Make and freeze apple and caramelized onion chutney
  • Make pickles (refrigerator and freezer): dill, sweet, bread and butter
  • Grow and dry herbs for tea (chamomile and mint)
  • Make and freeze pesto (genovese basil pesto, thai peanut pesto)
  • Dried sweet potato slices for chips (meh)
  • Planted, harvested and cured my own garlic
  • Bake my own bread – this is now part of my weekly tasks. I make 2 loaves (one whole wheat, one whole wheat cinnamon raisin) and we e joy homemade bread daily for breakfast,
  • Make my own hummus – again, now part of my weekly tasks (we like hummus)

And of my usual annual counts, I completed 2 of 3 – I really need to reevaluate my commitment to reading :):

  • Watch 50 movies: I’m currently at 66 with a few days to go til the end of December
  • Cook 30 new recipes: I cooked 36 and have a couple more planned before New Years
  • Read 30 books: Total failure – not even close – I’m still only on my 4th book this year!!

I removed a few items from the list:

  • Ride an elephant
  • Ride a camel
  • Eat Belgian chocolate in Belgium
  • Eat a beignet in New Orleans
  • Own an All Clad pan

And added a few:

  • Learn to crochet
  • Knit a pair of stockings
  • Knit a shawl
  • Make homemade pita bread
  • Make yogurt
  • Make cheese

I’m currently at 319 completed of 470 – good progress!! I’m really pleased with what I managed to cross off this year, especially in the food skills – I’m excited to keep learning.

Next up – what I’m planing for 2019.


Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Life List Update

On our recent trip, I got to cross off a few things on my Life List:

  • Celebrate 15 year anniversary (2018)
  • Go on a cruise in Europe
  • Visit Santorini, Greece
  • See King’s Landing (Croatia)
  • Visit Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Visit St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy
  • Travel to Venice, Italy

Also increased the counts for these:

  • Go on 10 cruises (9 down, 1 to go)
  • Travel to 50 countries (22 done, 28 to go)

I also noticed that I recently completed these but forgot to cross them off:

  • See Phantom of the Opera
  • Make my own herbal tea

My new total is:ย  319 completed of 442, so 123 to go! ๐Ÿ™‚


Read Full Post »

We started planning this trip almost a year ago. Our itinerary was to spend 2 days in Venice prior to embarking our ship for a 7-day cruise in the Greek Isles, then spend another day in Venice, then 5 days at my in-laws’ on Kalymnos, a small island close to Kos.

Day 1: We arrived in Venice on Friday morning (after our flight landed in Milan for a small 2-hour detour due to fog at the Venice airport) , checked into our hotel (Hilton in Mestre, a ten-minute bus ride from Venice proper which was the perfect choice, especially after having seen all the tourists struggling to roll their luggage across all the footbridges in Venice which is closed to car traffic). We dumped our luggage, took a quick nap then off we went to explore to get our bearings – bonus that the bus stop was right outside the hotel. We walked from Piazzale Roma to the Rialto bridge, to Saint Mark’s Basilica (San Marco) and the Doge’s Palace , jaws dropped, cameras out, taking in all that Venice has to offer. It’s really a sight to see with all the canals, water traffic and footbridges joining all the islands (100+) together. Truly a fantastic and visually stunning city.

On our first day, we just explored and ate at great restos along the way. Our usual options include caprese salad, spaghetti carbonara and/or bolognese, tiramisu, ravioli of the day and wine or aperol spritzes). Everything was delicious. We walked along the Grand Canal admiring the views and enjoying all the boats. We crossed over to Dorsoduro and were amazed at how quiet it was; we walked by the Accademia and ended up back at the Piazzale Roma to take the bus back to the hotel.

Day 2: We had breakfast at the hotel and headed to Venice (bus again), and met our tour guide near St. Mark’s. We learned about the history of Venice, the Doge’s Palace and all the neighboring buildings including the clock tower, the library and where they used to hang people between the two columns near the canal. We visited the basilica and were surprised (but then not really) when we noticed that the floor was quite uneven due to the foundation issues ever-present in a city built on former swamp land. Our guide led us through some lesser-traveled streets sharing some info about local life – that was quite interesting. We had a break for lunch then met up again for our boat tour. Being able to see Venice from the water was really cool, starting from the grand canal then winding our way around the smaller inner canals. Glad we got to experience Venice from a boat – I mean, how could we not?! ๐Ÿ™‚ย  (No, we didn’t do the gondola thing but were surprised at how large they actually were.)

After diner, we met up with the couple we would be starting our cruise with the next day and enjoyed a fun dinner – our waiter was hilarious. We all walked back to Piazzale Roma and took the bus back to the hotel. Tomorrow, we would board the Norwegian Star!


San Marco



Rialto Bridge



Our guise explained that back in the day, the water came up all the way to the steps and people arrived by boat and disembarked. After wanting to expand, they built out the additional pier area to allow foot traffic.


Doge’s Palace

In the picture above, you’ll see platforms stacked to the side (bottom left in the pic). Our guide explained that when the tide rises and the water floods the square (or other areas in Venice prone to flooding), they place the platforms so people can still walk around without getting their shoes wet. We noticed the water higher than usual on our return day but not enough to warrant the platforms.



Shopping area in Venice



Many of the towers were leaning – understandably so due to the foundations



We enjoyed getting lost and giggling with other tourists walking through off-the-beaten-path alleys and streets


San Marco


Gondolas under the Bridge of Sighs


Bridge of Sighs



They used to hang people between the two columns seen in the distance. Locals are superstitious and prefer not to walk between them (or so our guide tells us) ๐Ÿ™‚

Food in Venice:




Spaghetti Carbonara


Ravioli with branzino, clams and shrimp


Aperol spritzes


Speghetti Carbonara (bottom) and Bolognese (top)




Read Full Post »

Lately I’ve been really focused on skills that have been lost over generations or simply not passed down from our parents and grandparents. I don’t know if it’s due to the younger generations not caring, a general waning interest in those types of skills or a lack of time when convenience is just easier to satisfy the needs of ourselves and our families.

That being said, I’ve been happily learning and honing those skills for my own enjoyment and fulfillment. Call it taking care of my family or call it preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Either way, I’m fairly confident that in the event of a food shortage or other similar emergency, I feel like I’d be ableย to provide and help my husband and I not die (the bar is low folks). Unless we’re talking full-fledged apocalypse where people are killing each other for a tomato, well, I’d probably have problems and a tomato would be the least of them. But I digress.

Back to me and my epic skillz. ๐Ÿ™‚

I started a list (of course) of skills I wanted to learn and I’m happy to say I’ve been making great progress. I’ve plsit the list into four categors of “learning”: Things I already kow, things I’m currently learning (In Progress), Things I want to learn, and Things I don’t need (yet). I reserve the right to change my mind on that last one if, you know, zombies and all.

Know In Progress Want to learn Don’t need (yet)
Learn to make dried herbs x
Learn to make freezer jam x
Learn to rotate your crops x
Learn to bake bread x
Learn how to weed properly x
Start your seeds indoors x
Learn to garden x
Learn to cook from scratch and in season x
Learn to knit x
Learn how to forage for wild edibles x
Learn to store food x
Grow an indoor fruit tree x
Know first aid and CPR x
Learn a fiber arts skills such as rug hooking, spinning, weaving or felting x
Learn how to make lip balm x
Learn how to prune x
Learn to can – pressure x
Learn to can – water bath x
Learn to crochet x
Learn to grow and store medicinal herbs x
Learn to make butter x
Learn to make candles x
Learn to make cheese x
Learn to make dried fruit x
Learn to make dried vegetables x
Learn to make home medecine ointments and salves x
Learn to make vinegar x
Learn to make yogurt x
Learn to save seeds x
Learn to sew basic stitches x
Make bar soap x
Make dish soap x
Make laundry soap x
Plant a fruit or nut tree x
Learn to fish x
Learn to hunt x
Learn how to start a fire x
Learn to purify water in different ways x

That being said, these are some the tasks I have been tackling this year to hone said skills:

  • Expended my garden to 4 beds (16 square feet each), for spring, summer and fall crops. I’m still not saving seeds yet but I will eventually. I do start my seeds in doors and transplant once risk of frost is past (in my area zone 6b).
  • I grew mint and chamomile to dry herbs (with a dehydrator) for tea. This has been great – love my very own tea blend. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • I grew lavender and made sachets (second year in a row now).
  • I bought fruit at our local farm and made freezer jams (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry and peach). So excited to have a freezer full of jam for the winter.
  • I bought local pickling cucumbers and made refrigerator and freezer pickles: dill, sweet, bread & butter. Delicious. And we’ll have some for months!
  • For the first time, I planted garlic (last fall) and harvested and cured them. They turned out great and we had the first clove in dinner yesterday – holy moly – tasty!! We have 13 bulbs total to savor over the coming months.

Some pics:

Garlic harvest

Garlic harvest (TV remote for size comparison)

Lavender harvest

Lavender harvest

Lavender sachets

Lavender sachets

Drying chamomile

Drying chamomile

Pickle batch

One batch of pickles

Freezer jam - strawberry

Strawberry freezer jam

Peach freezer jam

Peach freezer jam

Freezer jam

Freezer drawer of jams and pesto

I’m also planning on tackling these tasks in the upcoming months:

  • Make basil pesto (once I harvest the basil in my garden)
  • Make apple chutney (and freeze), apple sauce (and freeze), possibly make apple pie filling (and freeze) – to take advantage of the apple harvest in our neck of the woods
  • I’m planting cabbage as a fall crop and will make sauerkraut (my first go at fermenting!)
  • I’ll be making vegetable chips in my dehydrator, possibly some dried fruit too for some healthy snacks

Once the food season passes, I’m going to work on other skills that are more indoorsy. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good times.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »