Monday, 1 April 2013

Slow down. This ain't the mainland.

It's Easter weekend and it finally feels like spring has arrived!  After a fairly busy week with another delivery (a polite baby who was born at 7:30 pm!), I was glad to have a long weekend.  Derek and I have come to Victoria to visit my parents.   We always enjoy coming to the island because it's chilled out & relaxed.   As soon as you get off the ferry in Swartz Bay, you can tell the islanders from the mainlanders; the islanders are driving whatever speed they want (that would be slow) in whichever lane they want, while the mainlanders furiously try to deak and tuck around them.

The pace of life is definitely more mellow!

Am I the only one who associates vacations with good eats & lots of them?  A few years ago Mom, Bronwyn & I literally ate our way around San Francisco - it was scary.  And delicious.  The enjoyment of good food includes little mini-trips, like this one to the island.  We have a few favourite  restaurants over here and we try to hit them all when we come over.   Add to that the fact that my mom is an amazing cook, and we are pretty much going from one delicious meal to another.

Stop #1: Pizzeria Prima Strada.  We usually come here straight from the ferry!  It's not only the best pizza in Victoria, but it's probably some the best pizza we've had anywhere.  Yes, even including Italy!!

Salsiccia Piccante!

The afternoon was spent hanging out at the house.  My parents have two awesome dogs, Kia & Corrigan, who always offer up an enthusiastic "Hello!  Welcome back!" when we get to the house.

The Welcome Committee
For dinner we stuck with the Italian theme, with a cowboy twist - Mom made this great Chicken Spaghetti from the "Pioneer Woman Cooks."

Mom cooking up a delicious dinner
The next morning we felt we had to do something to make room for all these yummy meals.  The dogs also felt this was an appropriate plan of action.  Mom, Derek & I walked the dogs down to Willows Beach, where it was full-on spring!  It was sunny, warm & everyone was out enjoying a gorgeous weekend.

Kia brings me my socks.  Is this a hint?

Yes, we are excited!!!

Walking at Willows

Willows Beach, looking towards Cattle Point

Willows Beach, looking toward the marina

Willows Beach Park

Oof!  After all that activity, we had better have something to eat.  How about Sun Wah, our very favourite Chinese Restaurant?  Derek has been known to destroy a large bowl of Hot & Sour Soup on his own.  It's quite impressive!

Mmmm..... lunch at Sun Wah
Saturday afternoon I decided to head downtown to look around & enjoy the weather.  If you are going to be a tourist in your own town, you could do worse than Victoria.  Victoria is very picturesque, but it really shines on a sunny day.

Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and the second oldest in North America, after San Francisco.  Here is the "Gate of Harmonious Interest":

I shopped my way through downtown, ending up at Bastion Square, where I stopped to people watch over a gelato.  I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to an iced-treat on a warm day, but I will say that nothing can touch the gelato we ate in Italy!

Great day & perfect spot for people-watching
Re-charged on gelato, I continued my touristy journey to the Inner Harbour.  We are still a few months away from the peak of the tourist season, but the Inner Harbour is the center of the action.  There were a fair number of people out checking out the street vendors & performers.

I have a  renewed love for the Inner Harbour & downtown Victoria after Derek & I got married here this summer.  We were lucky enough to have a habour-view room at the Empress; I definitely felt like royalty for those few nights!  What a view!!!

 On the way home I stopped for a swim at the Oak Bay Rec Center.  I have so many fond childhood memories of Oak Bay Rec.  We did swim lessons here, I'd hang out here with friends & every Sunday night Dad took us all for a swim.  We really enjoyed Sunday evening swims with Dad, but 5 minutes before closing, all of us kids would make ourselves scarce as it was Dad's habit to register a complaint to the staff.  You could see them all scatter as he approached.  Dad was unhappy about injustices against us kids - toys being put away too early, the water-slide closing early.  At the time it was embarrassing, but if I could go back in time, I'd totally have Dad's back.  After all, he totally had ours!

Not much to do after such a busy day but relax.....

Kia & I relax with Pride & Prejudice
The next morning was Easter & I had volunteered to make Easter brunch for the family.  I was going to try for a few more ticks in my Cookbook Challenge, but I had already stumbled upon a few recipes that were calling me from books I've already used.  But they were new recipes, so I think we're still in the same spirit as the challenge.

Dad is the coffee-master in the morning
Good thing, 'cause my eyes aren't even open before I have my first latte
Working away at my Brunch Station

From The Smitten Kitchen I made bacon, potato & feta fritatta with maple-bacon biscuits, and from the "Pioneer Woman Cooks" Blog I made Lemon Rosemary scones.

You'd think after all this, I might escape the kitchen, but no!  I had also volunteered to make dessert for that night.  I remember hearing when I was young that "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach".  At the time I didn't understand it, and now I don't believe it... But I still do like to find new chocolate treats to delight my chocolate-loving husband.  How about "Chocolate Silk Pie" from The Smitten Kitchen?

Chocolate silk pie
We had company for dinner - my cousin Brad came over with his girlfriend Kim.  It was great to see them & catch up.  Mom made a tasty roast with stuffed potato and roasted cauliflower and we followed it up with my dessert.

Dad, Kim, Brad, me & Derek
You may not believe it, but we did do more than eat this weekend.  There was some walking, some swimming, lots of hanging out and a trip to the museum.  I would tell you more, but I can't because I'm being called to dinner!!!

I'll leave you with the belly shot of the week:

33 weeks, at Willow's Beach with my babe!

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