December 2, 2012

Curious Around the World

Hello My Life in Reverse friends and family!

I've FINALLY made the decision to switch from BLOGGER to Wordpress. I was so comfortable and familiar with Blogger that I was scared to make the switch. Not to mention I've been forced to change the name of my blog because the "My Life in Reverse" domain wasn't available.

So, without further ado, I'm happy to present.... (drumroll please...)

CURIOUS AROUND THE WORLD!

I've gone googly eyed trying to fumble my way around Wordpress, but now that it's (mostly) done, I'm happy I made the switch. So, please come visit me on my new blog.

If you're planning a trip to Vancouver you can also see stop-motion street videos of my city here...

CURIOUS IN VANCOUVER

Thanks for following along here, I'm hoping to do more traveling this year and gather some more inspiration!

Andrea

November 24, 2012

Foodie Friday... a day late!

Here's another great soup recipe. It's Moroccan and it's called HARIRA! I've made this many, many times and it's always well received. Plus, it freezer really well.

If you're a veggie, it's easy to just omit the chicken and use veg broth instead. This is some seriously healthy soup too... hardly any oil and tones of vegetables and fibre! You can make it into a kind of "kitchen sink" soup, because you can pretty well throw in whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.

***I can't upload a photo because I'm out of space on Blogger! I'll be moving my site to Wordpress imminently!



  • 1 whole chicken breast, halved
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • a 28-to 32-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and puréed coarse
  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 2 cups cooked dried chick-peas (recipe follows), or a 19-ounce can, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup raw long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • dried chick-peas, picked over water

  • *As usual, I've changed this recipe from the original... the recipe wants you to simmer the chicken breast for 17-20 minutes, then remove it and shred it up before putting it back in the soup. I prefer to just sauté the chicken and add it later. 

    I've also added carrots, celery and kale. 

    I didn't have any fresh coriander so I just added 1 tsp. of dried ground coriander. 

    -In a large pot, sauté the onion, carrot and celery until slightly tender.

    -Add everything else except the parsley and fresh coriander.

    -Simmer 30 minutes.

    -Add parsley and fresh coriander before serving.

    November 23, 2012

    Europe Slideshow Part 1

    Click on the link below to see Part 1 of my Europe slideshow. It's basically a roundup of the first 3 months.... every time I watch it I can't believe just how much I saw in a relative short period of time. I must be slightly OCD, really and truly. Hopefully in a GOOD way!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En3VRmU-dmY&feature=plcp
    I miss Europe....

    Carcassonne, France

    November 19, 2012

    I want to "Go With Oh' to Rome

    There's a fabulous blogger contest going on right now by a company called "Go with Oh." You can rent one of their lovely apartments in a variety of European cities, and this contest would allow the winner to visit 4 of them and have a "Go with Oh" apartment at their disposal! THAT is one good prize.
    To Rome!
    Click on this link http://www.gowithoh.com/ to check out their site and perhaps win a prize yourself in their Facebook competition!

    I had ten cities to choose from and have been to all but one (Dublin.) At first I thought that would be the best city to write about but there was another city tugging at my heart strings. (They say the way to a mans heart if through his stomach, I guess you could say the same thing about me!)

    It's one of the places I've thought about many a time in the past year, drooling to go back. It's ROME!!! I've only been to Rome once, and what I quickly discovered was that three days simply isn't enough time to see a place that wasn't built in a day, nor is it enough time to sufficiently satisfy the palate.

    I WANT TO GO WITH OH TO ROME! There. I've said it. So, here's my story, who I'd take and what I'd do!


    "So much food, so little time" is a good way of summing up my time in Rome.
    This looks like some serious picnic porn.
    What I loved most about Rome were the side streets and the back alleys. When you get off the (tourist trodden) beaten track you discover the REAL city. It's a little gritty, maybe not as pretty as the piazzas but potentially so much more interesting. That's where you'll find the best street art too - BONUS!
    Who knows what you'll find down this street? 
    When I was in a small town in Turkey I met this old man as I wandered down a quiet path that was akin to a back alley. He'd just found a gigantic grasshopper. He knew no English, I knew very little Turkish, but we had a lovely moment admiring this grasshopper together and showing it to a local cat sitting in the window.

    I need to find my old man and grasshopper in Rome. I know he's out there.
    Cat, meet grasshopper. Grasshopper, meet cat.
    Since Rome's transit system is somewhat questionable (I seemed to spend a LOT of time waiting for a bus that never came) I wound up walking most of the time. Rome is a rather large (read:HUGE) city, so walking everywhere is unthinkable. But once I start walking, I find it hard to stop. Peek around here, poke around there... my curiosity is something akin to the cat in the photo above. Hmm, maybe that means I have nine lives too?
    See how much beauty you can find in the back alleys of Rome?

    So, what would I do on my perfect trip to Rome? Well, to be perfectly honest, I'd EAT! I didn't sample nearly enough of the Roman cuisine when I was there, so I'd be making up for lost time in a big way.

    I didn't eat any pasta cacio e pepe (quite literally, pasta with cheese and pepper.)

    Photo courtesy of Enzus.
    I didn't eat any suppli (fried risotto balls stuffed with anchovies, ham, chicken or cheese and served with a chicken or beef broth.)
    Photo courtesy of Mansumenu.
    I didn't eat any fiori di zucca. (Fried flowers. Yes, flowers.) 
    Photo courtesy of FrancescaV.com.

    None of the photos above are my own, because I didn't get to try any of these delicacies! So sad to be in Rome and not eat with the gusto that the Romans are known for. Remember, they were the originators of "The Vomitorium." 

    But did you know.... apparently the vomitorium is a myth! A vomitoria is actually a passage within an amphitheater that would allow large numbers of people to file in and out of the space quickly. The word "vomere" translates to "spew out" so I can see why it applies to spewing people out of the theatre or people making room for more dinner. For the record, I wouldn't be doing any of that if I did a foodie tour of Rome. I would just PACE MYSELF.



    I did eat a LOT of this though!

    In between tasting and sipping and sighing and pinching myself I would obviously need to find things to do (and try to walk off the results of my gluttonous ways in the process) so here are some spots I'd revisit while waiting for my next meal.


     I'd like to find this sweet little elephant again.
     I'd like to battle the crowds at The Colosseum in Rome again. Really I would. Except without the crowds. It was SO busy!
    The Parthenon was pretty well one of the coolest pieces of historic architecture I've ever experienced in my life. I'd like to sit in there and soak up the history while digesting my lunch (and waiting for dinner.)
     It was pouring rain for two of my days in Rome, so I'd love to see Trevi Fountain and The Spanish Steps minus my super cool blue plastic poncho. 
    I want to see this guy again.
    And this guy too.

    And even these guys. They look like they need a mediator. I can help with that. We can work things out over lunch.

     And who would I drag with me kicking and screaming on this epic food tour? Whoever I do bring would have to lace up their their sneakers and prepare to pound the pavement. The only way to combat the effects of a culinary spectacle such as what I have in mind is to walk it off. The only alternative would be jogging, but that's just crazy talk.

    The person I bring would also have to put up with a lot of "Lets just see what's down here," and "I'm just going to stop for a sec to take a picture," and "I have to pee again." It's true, I have a tiny bladder.

    So, who is my pick for this dream vacation avec moi? My man, of course! He met up with me in Germany when I traveled for 6 months last year. We ate schnitzel, we drank copious quantities of Hefeweizen, I pulled the "Andrea Boot Camp School of Walking" on his butt and he (mostly) didn't complain. He even proposed in Heidelberg. Awwww!


     Enjoying a little Belgian beer in Bruges. 
    If I am chosen to "Go with Oh" I will eat and drink my way through four cities and document every delicious bite.

    November 16, 2012

    The Evolution of an Idea

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately. WHERE do ideas come from? And why do some people run with an idea, while others abandon it? Some ideas come like a bolt of lightning, but I think most ideas slowly evolve until you get to the "why didn't I think of this ages ago?"

    Since I know myself best, I'm going to use my own experience as an example.
    This is me!
    *In the Fall of 2009 I wasn't overly thrilled with my life. I knew something had to change but felt stuck. I saw a counsellor who helped me get to the place where I knew getting "un-stuck" was the only option. She asked me what I really wanted to do and I answered "Travel. Go to Paris." She told me to do it.

    My answer? I can't. Why? Too many reasons that were just excuses. I was the only thing holding me back, not anything (or anyone) else.

    *I planned my trip for a year. It blossomed from just going to Paris to traveling around Europe for 6 months. I did it, it was amazing. Just scroll back in this blog and you'll see that I quite literally had the time of my life. I started to write, I saw art, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The seed had been planted. 

    *I remember sitting on a bus in Turkey looking out the window and thinking that I've never felt more alive, inspired and full of ideas. I knew that I needed to find a way to have travel and the experiences it brings fit into my new existence.

    *I got home late September 2011. I had no idea what I was going to do for money or work, and no real plan. I needed time to figure things out. I wanted a part-time job that was creative and flexible so I'd have time to research how to be a travel writer/blogger and work on my art. A month after I returned I got a job at a kids art studio teaching them about the great masters in art, many of which I had just visited their galleries in Europe (Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse.)

    ***I also learned to teach stop-motion animation. Further down this post you'll see why that's an important detail...

    *In the spring of 2012 I started working on my collage art again. I applied to the Harmony Arts Festival Art Market and got in. A friend who's in the art licensing business saw some of my work on Facebook and wanted to see more for possible publication. After months of waiting, that has finally happened! The catalog came out in October, and I am officially a published artist! I'm thrilled and excited beyond words.
    Winn Devon/Canadian Art Prints Catalog
    Yup, that's MY name under that art! Woot!
    12x12 cuties 
    This is  catalog page #1
    And this is catalog page #2
    *So, I've been working on the art, and totally neglecting my blog. Yes, this blog. So I decided to start writing again regularly and join Twitter. I wasn't sure if Twitter would be a time waster or what, so I decided to give it a month and see if I liked it. Not only do I like it, I LOVE it! It's the greatest way to communicate with many different people at a time, and build some genuine connections. Yes, it can be a time waster if you let it, but I try REALLY hard to limit my time on it. I need to go outside and smell the roses sometimes, right?

    * In July I saw a Twitter post about a company called Cheapoair looking for a blog writer. I applied and guess what? I got it! Crazy, right? So, now I can say I'm a published travel writer who gets paid MONEY for it! Slowly, slowly, things are happening!
    http://blog.cheapoair.ca/

    * One of the other bloggers for Cheapoair is a travel writer named Cailin O'Neil. http://www.travelyourself.ca/ She did a post for Cheapoair about the best travel stop-motion movies, and this one in particular caught my eye. It's called "The Walk."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=coLX3WKNJ8Y

    I'd been wanting to do a Vancouver travel blog for a long time (before blogs, I wanted to do a book from a true locals perspective) but knew I needed something different than everyone else, I needed a hook. My friend Judi http://evendesign.ca/ and I wanted to do something together, so we thought a video blog would be fun. Until we realized that neither one of us really wanted to be IN FRONT of the camera, so that was a problem.

    We made a plan to meet on Main Street about a month ago to discuss our blog ideas. The night before we met, as I was falling asleep I thought about the stop-motion video above and wondered if something like that might work for our Vancouver street blog? A "walk" down the street and stop into cool shops and cafes. Hmmm.... might be worth a try! I told Judi when we met and she was gung ho.

    *We did our first street wander and went home to put the still shots in motion. It was fabulous! A little rough around the edges, but a solid first attempt. THIS was different. THIS was the thing that would set our blog apart from the rest. THIS was something worth working on.
    http://curiousinvancouver.wordpress.com/


    *** So, LONG story LONG, I see now that every single thing I've done since I've returned from this epic, life changing trip has led to me to this very place. I don't think the idea for stop-motion would have hit me like a bolt from the blue if it hadn't have been for the travel, the Cheapoair job and teaching stop-motion to kids at the art studio.

    It's all just a big pile of happenstance that are opportunities that you have to dig for like buried treasure. It's just up to you to dig for it. (Wow, that was some deep sh*t, wasn't it?)

    See what happens when I don't blog for a while? (:

    October 31, 2012

    Gratuitous photos of Henry

    OK, must get back to the blog! I've been busy and feeling like I'm fighting a cold this week, so I've been spending some uncharacteristic time on the couch watching The Big Bang Theory!
    I'm hoping to get back on schedule soon. I miss my daily posts!


    October 23, 2012

    Sometimes life gets in the way...

    of BLOGGING!

    I've been a busy girl this week, sorry for the lack of posts since last Friday!

    First thing, I'm super, duper excited to share a new blog project I'm starting with my good friend Judi. It's called Curious in Vancouver and it's all about Vancouver. What makes it different than any other blog about Vancouver is that we're doing a stop-motion video to go along with each blog post. We're having so much fun, and I have to say, our first attempt at stop-motion "street view" turned out pretty darn good! We're both chuffed to do more movies, so stay tuned, and follow my other blog to keep up on new posts/videos etc!
    Awesome street art on Main Street.
    Click here to watch the stop motion video on Youtube...

    The other thing that kept me out of trouble this weekend was the Tedx Vancouver Conference. It was amazeballs. I still haven't digested it all, all I can say is it was tremendously inspiring! I met up with an old friend from high school, and it was kind of nice to have someone to share the experience with.

    Check out their website to see who was giving the talks...I'm not sure if there's any video up yet of the talks given, hopefully they'll be out in the world soon, I'll post my faves once I'm able!
    TedxVancouver

    That's all for now, hopefully I'll have a *wee* bit more time for blogging later this week... I'll leave you with a little Henny-boy love.


    October 19, 2012

    Foodie Friday "Soup is Good Food!"

    MULLIGATAWNY!
    Old fashioned Turkey Noodle Soup.  Turkey stock and diced turkey from the Thanksgiving feast with carrots, celery, macaroni and a splash of Worchestershire sauce and soy sauce. Dinner is done. 
    The rains have finally arrived in Vancouver, and you know what that means... SOUP!  I'm addicted to soup. Partly because I love it and there are so many types of soup you can make, and partly because I'm a lazy cook and I like to get good bang for my buck.

    Not only is it super cheap to make soup, but you can usually get at least 3 meals from one pot. I'll eat the soup the day I make it, then freeze the rest in those handy dandy twisting Ziplock plastic containers. I seriously must have over 30 of those things.

    I'm not the Soup Nazi (like in Seinfeld) so I have NO PROBLEM sharing my favorite soup recipes. Just ask any of my friends or family if I make a mean soup. The answer is unequivocally YES!

    I know! I make good soup AND I'm so humble about it!

    The soup today is Mulligatawny. The soup in the picture is soup I made today. I forgot to take a photo of Monday's Mulligatwany, but to be honest it looks an awful lot like this one too.

    MULLIGATAWNY SOUP

    1 tbsp vg. oil (I always use olive oil)
    1/2 tbsp. butter
    1 c. chopped carrot
    1/2 c. chopped onion
    1 c. chopped celery
    1 clove garlic, minced
    3/4 c. chopped green bell pepper
    1/2 c. chopped, peeled turnip ( I hate turnip so I omit that)
    1 Granny Smith apple, unreeled, chopped ( I also hate sweet with my savory, so I omit this too)
    1 tsp. curry powder
    1/4 tsp. ground coriander
    1/4 tsp. ground cloves
    1/4 tsp. ground ginger
    1 tsp. salt
    Freshly grind black pepper to taste
    6 cups chicken broth or stock
    2 tbsp. corn starch ( I don't do the corn starch with water thing, mainly because I keep forgetting to buy corn starch)
    1/3 c. cold water
    2 c. cubed cooked chicken
    1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    Shredded coconut for topping (I've yet to try putting the coconut on top)

    -In a large soup pot over med. heat warm oil and butter.
    -Add carrot and sauté for 2 min.
    -Add rest of veg. and apple and sauté for another 10 min.
    -Add spices and stir for about a minute.
    -Add stock and bring to a boil.

    -In a small bowl mix cornstarch and water. Add to soup and stir until thickened, about 2 min.
    -Add chicken.
    -Puree chickpeas in blender with 1 cup of the broth.
    -Add puree to soup and mix well.
    -Reduce heat to med-low and simmer uncovered for about 10 min.
    -Ladle into bowls and sprinkle coconut on top.

    October 18, 2012

    Rockwater Secret Cove Resort on the Sunshine Coast

    I'm lucky. I live in a beautiful city with easy weekend getaways. The Sunshine Coast is a 45 minute ferry ride away and when you get off the ferry you have so many choices about where to go and what to do. The funny thing? You're taking a ferry, but you're still on the mainland. I couldn't wrap my head around that when I was a kid. I thought if you're taking a ferry, you're going to an island! Nope, not here! 
    Foggy day in Roberts Creek. Roberts Creek is a great little community just past Gibsons, and is home to many artisans. 
    And this was our weekend destination... It's not the cheapest option, but it was easily one of the coolest places I've ever stayed. Maybe not AS cool as the cave hotel in Goreme, but cool nonetheless. Rockwater serves up all sorts of accommodation. They have a lodge, cabins, and the piece de resistance.... the tenthouse suites. We had Tenthouse 60, and it was the best of the bunch. Super private and with the best view. If you go, ask for Tenthouse 60, trust me...

    We were there in October, and it was a stormy weekend. The first night it rained really hard and was so windy that I thought we were going to get blown away. We were essentially in a tent, but the tenthouses are made with industrial strength marine grade canvas, so we were not only water tight, but wind tight too. The second night it was lightly raining, and it was so lovely to fall asleep to the sound of waves lapping on the shore and raindrops lightly falling overhead. 
     I'm very picky about expensive hotels. I don't usually stay in them, and when I do its usually at a super discount, but despite that, I'm often disappointed by something. And I'm not being unreasonable... if you're running a luxury property, it should be impeccable, in my opinion.

    I'll think "If I was paying full price for this, I'd be pissed!" Rockwater surpassed my expectations. There was an ice bucket filled with ice upon our arrival. There was bubble bath for the tub, tea, coffee and a mini fridge. Everything was spotless and in good repair. (That's usually my pet peeve, broken mirrors, handles missing from chest of drawers, tired, outdated furnishings.)

    We got room service both nights. There is a short boardwalk from the main lodge where the restaurant is to our suite. Like I said, it was cold and it was pouring. Both nights our food came and it was as hot as if we were in the restaurant. I was impressed. And like I said earlier, I'm one picky bi*ch.
    The mini bar!
    The jacuzzi tub for two. You can roll the plastic window up to get fresh air and see the view. Only thing I didn't love? The toilet being separated by a Japanese style paper wall.
    King size bed and "to die for" view.
    Looking back into the tent from the balcony.
    The suite had heated slate floors, a beautiful stand up shower and a pot bellied stove as well. Cozy time!
    The view from the bed...
    The view from the tub!
    There's a spot about an hour away called Skookumchuk Narrows. It's an easy 45 minute walk in, and it's claim to fame is being the fastest tidal rapids in North America, and second fastest in the world to Norway's  Saltstraumen. 

    So, what does this mean? It means that so much water is being forced through this little, tiny narrows that rapids, whirlpools and whitewater is created. Check the tide charts to time it right, because if you come at the wrong time, you won't be impressed. If you come at the right time, you can see hordes of whitewater kayakers navigating the waters. 

    We timed it wrong, but I've been here before and knew what it was all about. Unfortunatly Paul hadn't, so we'll have to come back next time we're on the coast. We did enjoy watching a couple of sea lions surf and swim the little bit of rapids that were still in action. 
    Skookumchuk Narrows.
    I love fall because of the shroomies!
    Where's the gnome? This toadstool needs a gnome to go with it!
    Looking down to one of the tenthouses from the boardwalk.
    That's our tenthouse with the very best view!
    Thormanby Islands in the distance. We watched seals frolicking...
    Beautious sunset...
    So relaxed after a wonderful weekend! They have a spa as well, so if you're feeling super indulgent you can get a massage.