Saturday, August 27, 2016


Our ice cream fan found the First Place North American Champion Gelato while on vacation. 

Dedicated to quality gelato, we waited in quite the line.

The gelato is made on sight and served in colorful dishes or decoratively hand packed on a cone. They had traditional flavors in addition to lavender or earl grey, even matcha. We discovered we're a pretty traditional family when it comes to selecting flavors!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Temperate Rain forest

What better way to see the Temperate Rain Forest then on horse back?  Vacations are for everyone and that includes our horse girl.
Billed as a true West Coast experience, we did a hilly trek through some local parks, up and down a mountainside. This shared space welcomed dirt bikes, hikers, runners, bird watchers, dog walkers, girl scout troops and horse riders. It was a well utilized space.
It was full of cool, mossy, ferny, old growth woods.

After our trail ride.  We had reservations for tea at the elegant Empress, Fortunately, we allowed extra time to shower and change!

More horsey adventure in the evening. Some in our group preferred this easier mode of horse transportation where we jostled along in a horse drawn wagon and were told stories of Victoria and got to get acquainted with  the area as we enjoyed the flowers, the park with peacocks, and old Victorian homes.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Topiary Fun

Outside of our lovely lodging on the Inner Harbor in Victoria, the grounds were being planted with many roses, flowers and a fun variety of topiaries. 
No one minds if the deer eat the posies!
  When these fill in, it will be striking.
Dolphin and delphiniums

Can you spot the bird?

 This friendly lady is greeting everyone as they arrive. 
A parrot made with sedums and grasses.

Even the pond had a topiary started. This will soon be a variety of fish. The gardeners are certainly kept busy shaping and snipping and coaxing them along!

But our favorite, the horse, of course!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

James Bay Tea Room - Victoria, BC

Upon the recommendation of a tea friend, our first tea room destination was at the quaint little James Bay Tea Room and Restaurant on Menzies Street located in James Bay the oldest neighborhood in Victoria, British Columbia. This spot was ideal for our family, as in addition to Afternoon Tea, you could order off the menu. Since Cedar still professes to not be a fan of afternoon tea, he ordered a big plate of pancakes.

The tea selection was varied with colorful tea cups of different designs. The tea pots were wrapped in knitted tea cozies also in varying colors and styles. Tea room decor featured assorted pictures of the royal family and other historic English notables along with decorative plates and British flags. Cozy and quaint.
Angelica had the best of both worlds! She ordered off the luncheon menu and selected the homemade asparagus quiche served alongside a fresh salad. She was also able to sample various tea time treats from the afternoon tea trays that the rest of us selected.

The tea tray held an assortment of savory tea sandwiches on the bottom tier, in the middle were toasted crumpets and English scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, while the top tier had a fun variety of delicious little desserts.
Finger Sandwiches

Scones with Fresh Fruit Cup
                                                       What a fun casual stop for tea!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Craigdarroch Castle

Considered Canada's Castle and designated a National Historic Site, this 28-acre estate is located in Victoria. Construction was completed in 1890 as the home for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his family. His wealth is reflected in the exquisite collections, the stately Victorian-era furnishings, amazing woodwork throughout four floors, and delicate stained glass windows. Sadly, Robert passed away before it was completed so only his wife Joan and three of his daughters ever lived here.
The tour is basically self guided with docents available to answer questions. Each room is a showcase for the amazing collections displayed here.

Ouiji Board

Over the years the property was used as a Military Hospital to house terminally ill soldiers after WWI, Victoria College, offices for the school board, the Victoria Conservatory of Music and finally from 1969 onward the Craigdarroch Castle Historic House Museum.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Nanaimo Bars - Canadian iconic dessert

When preparations for this Canadian adventure were being made, and Nancy learned that the ferry would be taking us into Nanaimo, she mentioned that she wanted to try an authentic Nanaimo Bar. Are you familiar with them? or ever tasted one?                                                                                   According to history, the first published recipe appeared in a 1952 cookbook coordinated by the Women's Hospital Auxiliary. The recipe is on display in the Nanaimo Museum. As with many recipes, several variations can be found as cooks like to tweak a recipe and make adjustments according to their tastes. 
The first time Nancy heard about Nanaimo Bars came from this recipe that appeared in The Bountiful Collection, a cookbook published by the Penn Cumberland Garden Club in 1980. Whenever she makes a recipe, she always pens a note about the overall success (or not) of the recipe. This one is marked, 'delicious! rich!'.
Then, with the arrival of the Internet, this recipe for Squamish bars was shared by Nancy, from BC, in an on-line tea-themed group. She posted that it 'might be my favorite bar and I make it at Christmas time. Again, it is very rich so I just cut it into smaller pieces. Enjoy this yummy! It also freezes well.' Another variation on the Nanaimo Bar but maintaining the basic concept: three layers a crispy bottom, soft icing filling, and a chocolate topping.

And this is the ultimate Nanaimo Bar recipe shared by Tourism Nanaimo. For a larger printed version, here's a PDF file, here.

Did you know that Nanaimo Bars were served at the White House State Dinner in 2016? Perhaps they'll be served in Sweet Remembrances one day soon!