Friday, August 30, 2013

Visiting the Superior Lake

How was Lake Superior, you ask?  Well, do these answer your question?

Beautiful, am I right?  Beautiful, yet powerful and dangerous.  This great lake is so big that it creates it's own weather and is so deep that its waters alone could fill the other four great lakes.  Doesn't that seem kind of crazy?  It's the deepest (and thus the coldest) of the great lakes as well as the cleanest.  Lake Superior is simply breath taking.

Our trip only lasted 5 days, one of which wasn't even at Superior, and yet it was jammed packed with business and excitement.  We went swimming, went on a couple of hikes, drove up to Wawa to see the goose, impersonated a moose and had a couple of relaxing campfires and sunset watching.  We were almost always on the go, which was fun, but also tiring.  Upon returning to civilization, I felt I could sleep for a week.  Sadly, with work the next morning, that was not an option (though I did accidentally sleep in and was five minutes late).

Watch for the Moose Crossings!
One downside to our trip was the weather. We had a couple of nice sunsets Saturday and Sunday evening, but it stormed Saturday night meaning that everything was wet, and then it was really muggy and rained some more on Sunday and was pure fog all of Monday.  Sunday we went for a 10k hike up into the hills.  It was warm going and the humidity was bad, but because of the clouds it wasn't too bad.  And then, two hours in, it started to rain.  Thunder rumbled over head as the clouds heaved a sigh of relief and emptied their stomachs upon the forest.  We still had an hour to go and so onward we went.

Everything that we had with us was wet.  Existing in a constant wetness is not fun.  Our towels had been left out overnight on the Saturday because we had gone swimming before bed, and that meant they were out in the storm.  Then, with the constant mist and rain, they could never dry.  Monday night, you could see the water in the air when you turned on the flashlights.  And yet despite that, we had a grand old time.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Two More Sleeps

Well, I'm finally taking a vacation.  I say finally because I had a summer course from May through to the beginning of August and I've been working almost full time on top of that, trying to get as many hours as I can before school starts again.  But, vacations are necessarily and all work and no play and yaddy-yadda-ya.  You know?

So, vacation here I come.  On Friday my housemate, Melanie, and our friend Kyla are packing up the car and heading up to Lake Superior Provincial Park.  I haven't been camping-camping in a couple years and I can't wait.  When we booked our site a couple weeks ago, we were nearly bouncing off the walls in happiness.  Suffice it to say, there's been a few sleepless nights due to excitement and a lot of hurt cheeks from smiling.  But at last, the time is upon us and we shall soon make our depart.

Until then, though, there is a lot to do.  Melanie's made lists upon lists for gear, food and personal items.  Currently, she's sitting beside me, trying to book a last minute site for the Friday night seeing as we won't arrive at LS until sometime on Saturday.  The funny thing is, on Friday, we'll probably be rolling in between 9-10 o'clock at night meaning it'll be dark and we won't really be able to see anything.  The next day, we'll be packing up and heading out early.  With that in mind, we literally just need a place to crash and yet Melanie is determined to find the perfect site.  It's rather amusing.  She keeps asking me, "What about #___?" and then shows me a picture to which I say, "Looks good.  Go for it." But then she looks at another and another.

Ah, there we go.  Site booked.  Now all that's left is the packing really.  And grocery shopping.  And then packing groceries.  Okay, so maybe there's a bit more to be done than I first thought, but still, it's almost here. Only two more sleeps to go.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Muffin Love

Muffins have magical powers.

Magical powers to brighten your day, that is.  I honestly love muffins.  I'd take a muffin over a cupcake any day, hands down.  They are second only to pie in my opinion.

This week has been a huge muffin week.  On Saturday, I went blueberry picking (and picked a ton! let me tell you).  So, I made some blueberry muffins and brought them into work on Monday.  I'm not a huge fan of blueberry muffins as I've found that they can greatly vary in goodness, but these ones were not that bad.  I followed a recipe I found on Pinterest, making it vegan so I could give one to my housemate, and it worked. The muffins only went up from there.

On the course where I work, we have a lot of apple trees.  Need a number?  probably close to 50 if not more.  There are a lot.  But I've never counted them so I don't know.  Many are clumped together because then the bees don't have to fly long distances to pollinate.  On Monday, one of my coworkers managed to get a number of good apples down from one such tree and I took some home.  Tuesday, I made Apple Cinnamon muffins.
Don't they look good?  These ones were fairly healthy with no oil or butter included.  The next day, I brought these lovelies to work.  Wednesday was a cold morning.  Normally, I go out with my green's mower and after 10, maybe 15, minutes I'm working up quite a sweat and by the end of my route (roughly two hours, give or take) I'm panting hard and soaked (sometimes also by sprinklers).  This Wednesday, even though I knew I must have sweat, I felt dry.  The wind licked the sweat right off in a dry kiss.  As I neared the end of my mow (only 1 1/2 greens left to go), one of my coworkers came driving by on our Tee Triplex with muffins in hand.  Apparently, the club house had given us a bunch as well.  He paused and handed me one then continued on his way.

Muffins = bliss.  I was content to pause for the moment to enjoy the muffin-y goodness (and it was scrumptious!).  Muffins can seriously brighten your day.

My all time favourite muffin of the summer was from last week, though.  A Banana-Zucchini-Choco-Walnut.  Can I hear a YUM! ?
 I know I can't wait to make these delicious morsels again!  Maybe you should go make some, too. ;)

Friday, August 09, 2013

To Make a Cake

I wouldn't call myself a chef or a baker or a great cook, really, but I like to try new things.  So far, this summer I've been able to try a number of new recipes, many of which have become favourites and will definitely visit my kitchen again.  Some of you know, but many of you do not know, that I live with a vegan.  She's newly vegan (as of May) and as a supportive friend, I try to vegan-ify recipes if I can.  This past week was her birthday, and so, in special honour, I made a special "cake" (if you will) as well as pumpkin pie (click for recipe).

A few months ago, I learned that Melanie loves watermelon.
Around that same time I saw this post on pinterest for a no-bake watermelon cake.  Naturally, I decided that I had to make this for her.  I'm not a huge watermelon fan myself, but I do like this refreshing fruit.  On Tuesday of this past week, I set out to the store and went through the process of selecting a melon.  I don't know if there's some technique to selecting the right one, but I just picked one that looked really green and was a good shape.  Next, I had to cut it into cake-like shapes.
  I'd never cut watermelon before and I had a bit of difficulty with getting flat surfaces for it to stand on, but I managed.  When it came time to make the icing though... that's where I ran into difficulties.  You see, I was making coconut cream (due to the whipped cream being dairy and thus not vegan) and so that the fat and liquid separate, you need to leave the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight.  I had left a can in the fridge, but it wasn't there when I went to make the cake.  I was on a bit of a time crunch, but luckily one of my friends was able to drive me to the store for a can, which I then had to leave in the fridge overnight.  Again, I was really lucky that the party was Wednesday.

Unfortunately, Lady Luck did not come with Wednesday.  I didn't manage to drain enough liquid from my milk meaning the icing was more like a syrup then a stiff whipped cream.  The icing oozed off the top and down the sides creating a white lake beneath my two pink islands.
It tasted scrumptious, yes, but just not... like it was supposed to.
 Melanie loved it though, which is all that matters.  Maybe I'll attempt the coconut cream again in the future, and maybe then it will work out well.  All in all, the party was a success and Melanie was really surprised.
Happy 21st to a Wonderful Friend!

Things I've learned about France (or at least Normandy)

Well there we go, my second European country. In some ways, very similar to England (a lot of meat and potatoes, fancy churches, pay toilets...