Sunday, March 24, 2013

Blog Revival! These past three months in Sarahland

Before we close off winter and slosh into Spring, I thought that it was time for a long overdue blog update.
My blog title Adventures in Sarahland is feeling even more appropriate when I reflect on the past few months.  I started a new job, albeit a temporary one, in January.  I took this opportunity for the challenges it would present both career wise and I' case you missed it, I don't particularly like flying and a key component of this job is travel, by plane, in poor weather, to small communities...the other challenging part of the job is working independently and dealing with highly emotionalized people.  Kind of like me when I get off the plane.  But anyways....

Since January I have travelled to Smithers, Golden, Kelowna, and Victoria and I'm finding that the flying part doesn't bother me at all.  The emotional people are just people and so far, aside from buckets of tears there's been nothing I can't manage.

You'd think with all that travel, some of my other pursuits would have fallen by the wayside, but thankfully they haven't!  I was addicted to another season of The Bachelor, went to a Canucks game dressed appropriately, took a vacation to a sunny destination, had our regular January hockey weekend in Victoria, and have forged ahead with my baking endeavours.  In amongst all of that I'm still plugging along with my website

Our annual trip to Victoria was a bit of a whirlwind in that I arrived home from a work trip late on the Friday night and then was on the ferry with the dogs at 7am the next morning.  We stayed again at the super fantastic Laurel Point Inn (check out my review on my website), had some fun dinners with the team, visited my Mum, and tried to squeeze in some shopping.

Our trip to the sunny destination was especially nice because we WON the trip.  Technically it wasn't me who won it, was a trip for two and I'm his 'two' so off we went.  The actual prize was to the Dominican Republic but we were allowed to choose something similar so I opted for beautiful Mexico instead.  We stayed at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, located just south of Playa Del Carmen on the Yucatan peninsula.  Trip was great; weather was beautiful, resort was lovely and aside from a spill out of a hammock, a scrape on some coral and a head bonk in a cenote, it was a fabulous trip.  If you want to read about the resort, check out my review on Trip Advisor.  Whenever I travel I obsessively read reviews so I like to do my part and provide my own reviews as well. 

Next up is my baking.  I resolved in early January to take a bit of a break and try some healthier pursuits but the pull of the kitchenaid mixer is simply too strong.  I succumbed.  Below are some pictures of what I've made in the past three months.  I don't usually make cakes so the bridal shower cake for a work colleague was a challenge. 

After our trip to Mexico I had no choice but to try baking conchas, sweet buns with a baked on topping that look fab and taste great if only I had paid more attention and lowered the oven temp I wouldn't have had such crispy bottoms.  Did another batch of my favourite chocolate cupcakes, Martha Stewart's Devil's Food recipe, this time with an almond buttercream filling and a chocolate/vanilla swirl frosting with an attempted red swirl made out of candy melts.  Lastly, I've been into  yeast breads making a basic white loaf, a cinnamon swirl loaf, then most recently a 2
 different cinnamon loaf this time with raisins and a more perfected swirl.

I've been feeling particularly happy about I still want to improve the format and a few details, but I've been blessed with the content I've been able to gather thanks to the great people and their dogs whom I've met via FaceBook.  I'm continuously surprised by people's willingness to participate in my little hobby.  My ongoing "Dogs of the World" feature just doesn't get tired, I love hearing about where people live and the details of their life that can be strikingly similar to mine or so incredibly different and interesting.  My favourite post this year has to be the story of Peggy, a woman in Texas whose dogs were stolen and then found a full 18 months later.  She was tenacious in her quest to find them and got huge media coverage in the United States.  I sent her an email, asked her a bunch of questions and didn't really expect to hear anything.  After all, she had her dogs back and I was a total stranger in another country.  But, she did respond and answered all my prying questions with genuine sincerity.  This is the good side of the Internet, strangers with common interests sharing stories and helping one another.

And in between all that?  Got a new mentee, attended several work training courses, had another round of short-lived eyelash extensions, cheered on my struggling Canucks, got my FitBit (which I love, but more on that another time), and um, may have done a bit of shopping and decluttering. 

I hope to get back to keeping this more current as we enter a new season.  That is all.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

This week in Sarahland - Pining, Pain, Peeps, Promos, Pasta and Piping

Well, it's been a busy week in Sarahland.  I shall endeavor to be concise and yet thorough in my accounting of what has transpired.

Monday, Monday, Monday, what a lovely day and more importantly what a lovely night.  Monday is my favourite night, my only real TV night when I settled in and swoon for an hour or two as I watch my lovely Jef on the Bachelorette.  Call it trash, trivia, scripted or fake, I love it! I can't imagine what my Monday's will be like when it is over.

While I watched the show this week, I also tried baking red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing for the first time.  Baking is not my strong point and without going into all the details, let's just say Scott's office got another two dozen rejected cakes and I managed to sort out 15 or so decent ones to take into the office for Jeanie's birthday.

The joys of Monday was soon forgotten as I lay in some mosquito-infested grass doing push-ups wondering what horrible thing I'd done to deserve this.  You see, a few weeks back, feeling inspired I signed up for something called the 'Tail Waggin' Workout'.  I thought Tigger would enjoy some exercise amongst his peers.  I didn't realize he'd be the one smiling and wagging his tail as he watched me struggle through a boot camp course that was supposed to be suited to ALL fitness levels.  In hindsight I think the problem was that I don't actually have a fitness level.  I'm not even on the chart...Tigger on the other hand, did seem to enjoy the night out.

Wednesday I had trouble walking, reaching, sitting, lifting and bending.  I did manage to attend a going away lunch party though, and being that it was July 11 (7/11) we had to take the long route back to the office and swing by to pick up our free Slurpees.  That night I met with my mentee and tried not to think about how I'd get out of the chair afterwards.

Roll on Thursday, still in pain, so bloody exhausted that I declined dinner out at The Keg.  Yes, I was THAT tired.

Friday up at 3:30am to witness a lightening storm, and to see Scott and Holly off on their camping/fishing excursion.  Friday is that day that downtown Vancouver realized that summer is has finally arrived.  There was a grand opening of McDonald's that we had to stop by then Starbucks was having free giveaways of their new refresher drinks (I managed to have both the lime and the hibiscus berry AND win a free coupon for a tall hot drink on my next visit).  Next we met a stuffed pickle (this is really not as unusual as it sounds), and then ran into a Nestea promo crew where I won a bike rental in the park, and of course an ice cold Nestea to enjoy.  On my way home I went to a drive thru radio station promo and won a Burger King gift card.  It was a winning day, AND I met Ronald, a lifelong hero of mine.  I concluded the evening with a trip to the movies, (saw TED), and a nice walk with Tigs.

Saturday, spent the morning running errands in preparation for the week ahead and my camping /fishing excursion.   My afternoon was spent at a class called "Italian Summer", a cooking course lead by a singing Italian chef named Peppe.

Sunday, more errands, some housework and I will be spending the afternoon attending "Cupcake Magic!" because after all my baking mishaps, magic may be exactly what I need.

Oops almost forgot to add, did two new posts at West Coast Dogs and booked two nights in Vegas for November.  Phew!

What to expect for the week ahead you ask?  I'm anticipating less city, more country, less magic and more mosquitoes...

Friday, June 29, 2012

A weekend in Sarahland

Now that summer is almost/sort of arrived, so has fishing season.  This means I have many free weekends ahead as Scott and Holly and assorted friends and relatives will be off fishing and me and Tigs will be at home.  We’ll join them a few times, but alas, the allure of the waves, the lack of hygiene and the smoky campfire doesn’t hold as strong of a pull for us as it does for them.

And I have to stay home and work on my baking with my new apron from Prestos Pizza! Check them out on Facebook and get your own free apron too!

I started to detail the events of last weekend in paragraph form but it was getting too lengthy, so instead I’ll try this style instead.

Friday I journeyed home in the rain; walked the dogs minus Holly, thus they didn’t complain.

Cakes were baked in anticipation; At Michaels I shopped with some trepidation.

Candy melts, squeezy bottles, sprinkles and such; left me wondering why I’d spent quite so much.

A rattly micro, a frightened dog, and then I’m left with a moose that looks more like hog.

By ten that night, our guest dog had gone home, cakecups and cakepops were finally all done

Saturday awoke early to a warm sunny glow; turns out it was a candle that I’d left burning, oh no!

A glance at the pops, and I wasn’t too thrilled; another mix, some blending and 24cups were soon filled

Then a drizzly walk with Tigs, such a pleasant start; then racing off to the opening of the new PetSmart

Some shopping, contest entries and a stop for supplies; a bundle of beef bones for Tigs, he couldn’t believe his eyes!

Next task, dip the berries and ice the swiss cake; sort through the cake pops and cups and decide which to take,

Pick up one friend, go to visit another; 30 minute wait at the border, *sigh* oh brother...

At last we were in the land of the free, or Land of Awesome Cheap bargains as it’s known to me

Cake pans, a blouse, leopard shoes and camp chairs; our last stop Fred Meyer for groceries and housewares

Home again, home again jiggidy jig, and waiting to greet me was my best buddy Tig.

A sleep in on Sunday and then laundry in tall hills, a two hour nap cured all of my ills.

Afternoon of leisure with man’s best friend, worked on his new book as the day drew to an end.

To parody a bestseller, is tacky you say; just means you haven't seen Tiggy's Fifty Shades of Stay! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

My FFE 2012 - those details that I omitted in my daily updates

Here I am home again from my amazing Fisher Family Experience 2012.

A few details that didn't make the daily posts.

My journey itself; I arrived over three hours early for my flight over, which was a good thing because I needed time to repack my checked suitcase when I learned that it could weigh up to 25kgs whereas my carry on that weighed in at 13kgs could only weigh 6kgs if I was going to be able to take it on the plane.  So some rearranging was in order, and I ended up with basically an empty carry on and a jam packed checked bag.  I flew Air Transat and aside from the luggage issues I have no complaints.  I got my desired aisle seat and an empty one beside me so me and my seat companion had room to stow our purses.  She was a nice older woman originally from Scotland, traveling home to England to visit her sister.  She hadn't been back in five years (same as me), and earlier this year she'd had knee surgery which resulted in a terrible infection that almost took her life.  Her children were called by the doctor to get to the hospital asap because they didn't think she was going to make it.  But she did, and there she was with me on the plane.  We chatted a bit, I slept, and then I helped her to make some wise duty free purchases for her grandchildren.  Flight was otherwise uneventful and I arrived at Gatwick, waited at the wrong turnstile for my luggage (wondered why everyone was in linen pants sporting dark suntans), and then eventually got sorted out and was greeted by my sister for our journey to Chateau Fisher.

The rest is in my daily blogs as you know.  I did make a few observations about the British in general on this trip.  Some I recall from past trips and some is new.

1.   They like their recycling, and yet they don't have compulsory deposits on pop cans, beer cans, juice cartons etc like we do in Canada.

2.   They even have shoe recycling bins!

3.   They LOVE to hug and kiss! Seriously, people I have never met before, who are not my relatives, wanted to hug and kiss me.  I know I'm quite irresistible, but really people, back off!

4.   Despite #3, they are very pushy when in little kid actually put his hand on my back and pushed me out of the way!

5.   They don't appear to realize that they are hosting the Olympic games in a couple of months.

6.   They are very festive when it comes to the Queen's Jubilee.

7.   They are a bit obsessed with something called 'bunting'.  It's like a streamer of flags put up for various occasions.

8.   Despite their love of recycling, they seem to do a lot of 'over-packaging', like radishes, and green onions for example, wrapped in crinkly plastic.

9.   Their carrots are abnormally large and short.

10.  They talk of having an obesity problem and yet grocery store clerks have CHAIRS and sit down on the job.  Just a thought, maybe take away the chairs and they will burn more calories.

11.  They don't seem to like orange cheese.

12.  They have at least 700 varieties of potato chips (which they call crisps) and yet only about 7 varieties of pop (which they call fizzy drinks).

13.  Their transit system is great, and they found it laughable that we operate on an 'honour system' here in Vancouver and surprisingly our transit system is seriously in debt.

14.  Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way and motorists take this very seriously.  And yet, seemingly in contradiction to this, there are signs painted on the street reminding pedestrians to "LOOK LEFT"...I guess they want you to see the car that is about to run you over.

15.  Besides the warning in #14, there are also warnings on taps 'DANGER HOT WATER'.  Perhaps they are a tad bit over protective.

16.  DOGS ARE ALLOWED ON PUBLIC TRANSIT! Amazing, simply amazing.  But I suppose the corgis do need to get to the palace and a taxi ride would be excessively costly to the taxpayers.

17.  FROOT LOOPS costs the equivalent of approximately $12 Canadian.  Insanity.

18.  On the table at Starbucks where you add your cream and sugar, your choices are semi-skim milk and skim milk.  No whole milk, no half and half, and no creamer.  The British seem to be angry at fat.

19.  The taps are on the opposite sides and turn off and on the opposite way.  Very confusing.

20.  The rest stops on the highway are AMAZING.  Seriously! They have several shops, food stalls, washrooms and places to buy books and magazines.  Like little mini-malls.

21. A latte is NOT a latte despite being at a universal chain coffee place.  Starbucks tall lattes in England have two shots of espresso in them.  This should be printed in guide books and on travel advisories.

22.  The preferred casual out fit for the young British woman is denim shorts and tights.  Odd.

23.  British people have very messy desks and offices.  Just sayin'.

24.  Their houses are small but their Starbucks are HUGE.  Really, bigger than any Starbucks I've ever been to.

25.  There seems to be an obsession with door stoppers.  They are available everywhere.  I have never seen one for sale in Canada, and yet doors here are not randomly slamming shut.

26.  The favourite cake is something called a Victoria Sponge.  In Canada we call this same thing, 'oh crap someone is coming over and I have nothing to serve them so I'll make a white cake cut in in half and add some jam that I have lying around'.  They are available everywhere and people swoon over them.

27.  A nail salon is a universal thing!  Same tabletops, same nail polish, same exact signage.  Seems like this would be a good place to hold international events so that everyone would feel that they had home court advantage.

Wow that was a longer list than I'd anticipated and I didn't even touch on everything.

Anyways, so my journey home was similar to my journey there.  Got to the airport, was told that my carry on bag was too heavy and that my check in bag was basically too light.  Did some swapping around.  Lugged it on through.  Got carried away in duty free, the largest item being a pillow with a royal emblem design.  Stuffed it in my carry on and then got stopped just as I was about to board and had to take it out of my carry on along with my new purse, books, and other sundry items.  Flight was fuller than the way over but it was a newer plane so there were free movies on screens on the seat backs and a good selection of music and tv shows.  I managed to survive the nine plus hours and less than ideal airplane food.  Arrived home to find Vancouver as I'd left it, slightly overcast and threatening rain.

And there you have it, my wonderful FFE, I had a great time visiting my Sis and family and friends and dogs and colleagues.  Thank you to all who were part of my experience, and thank you especially to Martz for letting me use his laptop every single night to write my blog.

I plan to continue to write more often, as long as life continues to give me material.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 9 of the epic FFE, my last day in London.

It was my last day of my Fisher Family Experience, exhausted but inspired I dragged myself out of bed, and headed down to the kitchen for a classic Fisher breakfast of brioche cinnamon french toast and maple cured back bacon.

After breakfast we drove by to collect Liz, parked at Waitrose in Surbiton and walked down the road to the Surbiton Saturday morning farmers market. 

There were many different stalls and many things to sample. 

Next we walked back into Surbiton, visited the 99p store, Boots and then Waitrose to get groceries for our great Canadian barbecue.
On the way I saw this sign and I still can't figure out what they are feeding the dogs over here that makes them poop flames...must be very uncomfortable, poor doggies.
This was the contents of my basket at the grocery store.
They had some very colourful flowers here.
Then we came home to find Jonathan home from his end of season dinner with a trophy and a present.
Then James stopped by for an apple Tango and some party rings.
Then, I advised Martyn on the planting of tomatoes.
Then Sis and I popped out to Jenny's for a manicure.

And then it was time for our barbecue.
And Picolla supervised.
And Jon had a mega burger.
And Liz had some rose.
And Picolla had a snack.
Then Liz decided to tint my eyebrows (a great idea after someone has been drinking).

And then thankfully Mazie arrived with a present for me!
And now I'm heading off to do my packing.