Monday, May 18, 2009

20th Anniversary Trip

Having just returned from a fabulous anniversary trip, I thought I would share a few highlights of Jim and Lori's excellent adventure to Victoria. Jim surprised me for our 20th anniversary by making all the travel arrangements to an undisclosed location.

Jim did a wonderful job, in spite of his reputation for travel planning, and as you can see, I am one happy camper when I learn where we are staying. Included below are some journal entries that highlight our amazing trip. Since I originally started this blog as a travel blog, I will focus on pertinent info. for all you hopeful travelers out there. I have listed our amazing food travels, including costs and addresses of some of our favorite haunts. Enjoy the trip, we sure did!

On our first day in Victoria, we spend a good deal of time familiarizing ourselves with our surroundings, and of course, making plans for our next meal. We make our way along the harbor and side streets until we arrive at "The Gates of Harmonious Interest" signaling our arrival into China Town.

Turning onto Fan Tan Alley, we squeeze through a narrow passageway littered with brightly colored shops and low hanging signs.

We stumble across a funky coffee house called "Bean around the World" and duck inside.
The eclectic mix of Moroccan bazaar, combined with the sweet smell of home baked goods peaks my curiosity. As I step inside I know instantly that I love this place!

Maybe it's the full size street light with all three colors aglow in the corner of the dining room that wins my affection, or the organic sacks of grain piled in the corner, or maybe it's the simple plank flooring, reminding me that the connection between ages past and present sometimes meet in the most unexpected places.
I order a delicious carmelo and Jim sips an americano while we both devour the most amazing piece of carrot cake I have ever laid eyes on. The music, a strange mix (think jazz meets zither) softly plays in the background. This is definitely a locals' place - no Starbucks atmosphere here.
This is the spot for the best coffee I've had, hands down. If you visit Victoria and are not easily frightened by the pierced and tatooed crowd, you are in for a treat at "Bean Around the World coffee".

We also found our way to Munro's books. A lovely bookstore in the heart of Victoria's downtown, Munro's is a treasure trove of literature in a beautiful historic building.
Irish Times Pub, our choice for dinner, located on Government and View at Bastion Square, boasts hearty pub fare and a jovial crowd. We are seated near the band which begins playing shortly after our arrival. The performer reminds us of an Irish Paul Simon. He is fantastic. He actually sings a song he wrote as a tribute to Elvis impersonators everywhere. How can you not love someone like that?

Jim orders the fish and chips, which we hear are pretty amazing. I decide to branch out of my comfort zone and order the Vancouver Island Fish Cake and I am not disappointed. In case the picture does not produce the desired effect, let me just spell it out for you. My selection, a symphony of dungeness crab, halibut, and brioche, with a poached egg served on a bed of greens, is unbelievable - and I don't even know what brioche is!
We settle in and enjoy our delicious feast with a couple of drinks and I even buy a c.d. from Paul, our performer (his name really is Paul).
Our second day we purchase a ticket for the hop on, hop off Grayline bus. This allows us to explore areas a bit too far to walk to. I snap a few photos of some beautiful churches.

While we stretch our legs, we stumble upon an interesting restaurant that I'm pretty sure will not disappoint. Floyds, on the corner of Quadra and Yates, is just the ticket if you like exceptional food with considerable atmosphere.
Don't let the flamingo pink color discourage you - this is the place to be for breakfast!

Jim enjoys a little wait in the unusually decorated restaurant - I think the employees may have just brought whatever they had in their apartments to work one day; either that or Goodwill had a sale.Wearing my one hippie sweater, I congratulate myself on "fitting in" with the mostly bohemian wait staff. However, as we await our table, my eye quickly catches a poster advertising an exotic dancers for cancer fundraising event and I realize, sadly, I am only a visitor here.

Floyds attracts a diverse crowd, all brought together for the shared experience of all day breakfast, casual dress, and what the nice man next to me refers to as "energy."

Jim, not as comfortable in his newly acquired surroundings, nevertheless a good sport, approaches our discovery with caution. I however, briefly consider getting a tatoo.

I hearken back fondly to my time with Greenpeace. It will probably come as a shock to most of you, but many years ago I organized and led a coalition to stop whaling. I relentlessly petitioned the Ambassador of Japan, writing several harshly phrased letters on behalf of whales everywhere. I even had a following of cohorts who, at my urging, agreed to take up the cause.
Okay, it may have only been about five of my friends, and I may have been in the fifth grade, but with pen in hand I considered myself a formidable ally with my Greenpeace associates.

I do remember worrying that I might be viewed as a threat to U.S. security should my letters to the ambassador be intercepted.

During this time we lived in the Pacific Northwest. Imagine my surprise when Mt. St. Helen's erupted in 1980 and the blast shook our house. Since I was generally an obedient and law abiding child, I lived with the occasional fear commonly acquainted with a life lived on the edge of civil disobedience. It should come as no surprise then that with the eruption of Mt. St. Helens I would naturally be concerned that perhaps my letters had angered the Japanese government. In my eleven year old mind I weighed the probability that the Japanese government finally decided to launch a full scale attack in retaliation against my people. Imagine my relief when I realized it was just the volcano erupting!

I decide against the tatoo after I recall a story about a friend of mine who, in her college years, suffered the natural consequences of poorly selected tatoo placement. Succumbing to peer pressure, she had Winnie-the-Pooh permanently engraved on her abdomen. Many years and three C-sections later, Winnie, no longer a "cuddly little cubby", sadly now morphed into a garish, misshapen caricature of a once beloved childhood icon. In Solomonic irony, her tatoo serves as a reminder of her unfortunate choice.

Whatever your political affiliation, left leaning, conservative, anarchist, green party, Floyds offers delicious, large portioned meals with a sense of humor - which I love! Some of their selections include: The Donald Trump Benny - chicken with apple chutney, and a curry hollandaise sauce; Eggs Ben-Hur - sundried tomatoes with spinach, mushrooms and feta. The Seinfeld - an eggs white omelet - because it's about nothing. I settle on the American Idol Benny -tomato, bacon, avocado, brie cheese topped with an herb pesto hollandaise sauce. If heaven has a taste, I believe it will be the American Idol Benny. Jim orders the Lumberjack - which boasts, "after eating this, you'll either want to take a nap or build something." Breakfast runs around $10.00 a plate.

If heaven has a taste, I believe it will be the American Idol Benny!

We must walk off all this food so we decide to visit the Royal B.C. Museum. A traveling exhibit is in Victoria and it proves well worth the $29.00 ticket. Make sure to throw your walking shoes in though!

Taking a break from the museum, we rest a spell on the veranda of the Empress, where we enjoy a little iced tea, watching the ships troll the harbor while we linger a while longer over our drinks.
Here is a picture of the inside of the Empress

Here is our room Our view from our room- overlooking the harbor
We also tour a castle
We make a new friend One of my highlights was tea at the Empress
The next morning we follow a lead from a local at Floyd's who told us about a great place to eat. Pagliocci's at 1011 Broad St. Another homerun!

Pagliocci's only serves breakfast on Sundays and we happen to hit it just right. Surrounded by bikers, we cram into the restaurant where we dive into the hot bagels brought to our table while we peruse our menu. After some deliberation, Jim selects the eggs benedict while I have the "Cool Hand Luke" special of the day -I'm reminded of Shakespeare - A rose by any other name... I am a sucker for a breakfast with a catchy title and I love Paul Newman. Similarly, I choose not to order the "Hot Transvestite" on principle.

The food is superb! We decide to push our luck and try one more place that our Floyd's friend mentioned for dinner.
Il Terrazzo on Waddington and Johnson, way off the beaten path in the back of an alley was our destination for dinner. After tonight's gastronomic delights I must say that if I happen to run into our friend from Floyd's I might have to kiss that man full on the mouth. It was that good!

I challenge my sweet hubby of 20 years to order something unusual, anything but lasagne! We're in luck because Il Terrazzo does not serve lasagne- hooray! Jim accepts my challenge and selects the buffalo ribs with mashed potatoes and fennel. I'm so proud of him!
I can't wait to dig into my chicken with scallops and prawns over a fuscili pasta with a three cheese sauce. Dinner here runs between $16 - $30. The service is fantastic and the food devine!
We happily settle into our little corner table with a private fireplace. I have the greatest husband ever!

A wonderful trip and great anniversary! We can't wait for our next adventure!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


From time to time I get a call to help with some design or decorating dilemma. I make a little money and really enjoy the challenge of creating a visually appealing space that is a reflection of the people who live there. The calls range from, "I'll pay you to help me pick out colors" to "I need new furniture for my house - here's my credit card." (Okay, that last one only happened once, but man was it fun!)

My heart sings when I walk into a well apportioned room, or when I manage to find that classic pencil skirt that fits perfectly. I think this interest began in high school, although visual diversity has developed through at least one uncomfortable situation (see following story). It is just a reminder that youthful exuberance should never be confused with actual skill.

One day I had to run into the local Fred Meyer to pick something up. I had just come from my high school. I was wearing a blue and white striped shirt with a blue vest, blue skirt, white tights, blue earrings, and blue flats. Oh - I also had my blue purse with me. I was styling!
I remember spending a lot of time picking out each piece of my wardrobe and feeling really good about the "matchiness" of it all.

I parked my car and walked up to the door when a man stopped me and asked how late the deli was open. I thought to myself, why would he think I would know that?

At the speed of thought - I realized, to my absolute horror, that he thought I worked at Fred Meyer. Oh my gosh! I was dressed like a deli girl! The poor man's face turned multiple shades of red as he realized I was not coerced into my attire but actually chose my ensemble of my own free will. His face must have matched mine as our mutual mortification sunk in. I still remember the look on his face as he said, "Oh, I thought you..." he stopped in mid sentence. Awkward silence followed. I didn't even go into the store. I went home and threw away my purse.