Lake Life in Whistler

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the….

I find myself humming this song every time I visit this picturesque little town surrounded by unbelievable natural beauty.

A day trip to Lost Lake instantly turns me into a carefree soul, happy to laze the day away beside the water while my little dog swims and fetches until he curls up, exhausted, on the beach blanket beside me.

“Dogs got personality. Personality goes a long way.” – Quentin Tarantino

A day spent here also takes me back to the best memories of my teenage years, growing up in lake country in Ontario. A sunny summer day meant putting your bikini on, getting on a rickety old bike, throwing the beach towel and PB and J sandwich in the basket and pedaling down a gravel road to the lake to meet up with friends. Our beach back in the day was a grassy patch beside a dirt road but it was sublime. Days were spent swimming, sun bathing, sometimes canoeing through the thick, beautiful lily pads and always relaxing. No smart phone or internet required.

It was simple and easy and fun and Lost Lake takes me right to that place.

After an afternoon of lazing in the grass and dips in the lake, it’s cocktail hour.

This one is courtesy of Milestones Restaurant:

Ruby Red Mimosa

  • Half glass sparkling wine
  • Ruby red grapefruit juice
  • splash elderberry liqueur

A sweet ending to a summer day.

*To make this drink sugar-free, just skip the elderberry liqueur.

Beware the barrenness of a busy life. – Socrates

Sugar free is the way to be

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting in a raw food eatery in Calgary with my ex-boyfriend, his daughter and his son-in-law, celebrating father’s day. Don’t ask how this happened. It’s a long story.

The cool thing about this luncheon, though, was that the daughter and son-in-law had been sugar-free for a few months and they were singing the praises of this lifestyle like the truly converted.

They had more energy and more even energy throughout the day, balanced moods, their skin looked better and had both, effortlessly, lost weight, they said. And their eyes lit up when they talked about their new eating plan and how much it had improved their lives.

As they talked, I remembered feeling that way too when I gave up sugar. The only thing is that it’s hard and, invariably, I slink down the slippery slope that leads to sugar mountain.

But, what the heck, I’m feeling ready to take on the sugar demon one more time.

I’ll chronicle my experience (and recipes) here and start the journey with one of my sugar-free life savers. This pudding is rich, creamy and bursting with a deep, dark chocolate flavour. Here it is:

The Chocolate Avocado Raspberry Pudding

  • four bananas
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • splash unsweetened coconut or almond milk
  • 2 T raw cacao

Blend, garnish with fresh raspberries & unsweetened coconut and serve.

Simple Summer Salad

The sun has been shining for the last several days in our lovely, little rainforest town and a lot of Vancouverites are walking around town with a smile on their faces. On a day like this I plan to stay out of the kitchen and on the beach for as long as possible. So, this morning I hit the Farmer’s Market to see what yummy, easy, local, organic-ness I could bring home for tonight’s dinner. And this is what I found:

A huge bag full of sweet, baby peppers and a big bunch of baby kale, only $5.00 each. Both locally grown, organic. The farmer who sold me the peppers told me she started using ladybugs a few years ago as living, natural pesticides. I’m always so impressed when farmers work in sync with nature like that. Ladybugs as pesticides? Apparently they do an amazing job of killing aphids and other problem insects.

Tonight’s menu: A salad that’s cool and simple on a hot, summer night.

I added avocado, walnuts, dried blueberries and red onion to the ingredients above. Then pan fried a piece of wild, BC salmon and drizzled everything with a home-made dressing of olive oil, balsamic and yummy, Canadian maple syrup. This salad is delicious with organic blue or goat’s cheese crumbled on top too.

salmon 001

An almost effortless dinner that’s refreshing and full of antioxidants. Eat al fresco if possible and enjoy the sweet, lazy, summer evening ahead of you.

Yoga & Martinis

Shade Boutique Hotel in Manhattan Beach was my home away from home in California and I feel like I could have happily stayed there forever. I truly mean that. When I was a teenager the most glamorous life I could imagine, and would constantly daydream about, was the life of a writer, in a big city, living in a luxury hotel room. I still think I would be incredibly happy living that life, especially since it includes daily maid service.

My dog and I both enjoyed Shade’s perfectly glam roof deck. I loved the morning yoga classes…

And the Nickster enjoyed lounging by the pool, drinking cucumber water and deciding if he should bark at the other guests.

pool dog

The daily, complimentary breakfasts were amazing…

smoked salmon bagel

But the real jewel of this hotel is it’s lobby bar-restaurant, Zinc. This is a cool little spot where you can end the day sipping a craft cocktail, chatting with the bartender and getting to know the other guests. My favourite fellow guests were two sisters from Atlanta. They were drinking wine and laughing every time I saw them and were in town to get a little botox and fillers in Beverly Hills. Just a touch so they could go back home looking “refreshed”.

There were a lot of delicious cocktails at Zinc but my absolute fave was the sweet and cool Cucumber- Pear Martini.

The Drink at Zinc

  • 2 oz. Grey Goose pear vodkamartini
  • 1 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • one peeled slice of cucumber, muddled in the glass
  • lemon lime juice (organic citrus fruit, agave syrup and water to taste)

Instructions:

  • Muddle cucumber in the bottom of a martini glass
  • Shake (or stir) remaining ingredients with ice
  • Pour over cucumber

Voila! A perfect cocktail.

Oh, and then there was the food…

Shade Hotel

Malibu Love

http://wheresmybackpack.com/2014/03/21/travel-theme-pink/

The current travel theme is pretty pink and since it’s Throwback Thursday too, I’m posting a few photos from a 2011 trip to California.

The pink part:  My friend Tammy and I lounging on a pink striped beach blanket at Zuma Beach, watching the waves roll in and a family of dolphins swim by.

More pink…We decide to take a break from the ocean waves and venture into town for an unbelievable fuchsia-coloured smoothie, made with nothing but freshly blended watermelons. Who knew that something so simple could be so delicious? Even my dog wants in on the action.

The travel part: Malibu. One of my favourite places. Ever. A corner of the world where I’m so insanely happy just sitting on the beach, listening to the waves and watching cute surfer dudes head to the ocean.