Wednesday, February 29, 2012

♥ List

I am loving... churches converted into homes

Via Travelet
Via Home Tone

Via Homedit

Via Homedit

Via Homedit

Via Daisy Pink Cupcake

Via Beige is Dead


Monday, February 27, 2012


This weekend we made a quick escape to the Kootenay Coldsmoke Powderfest in Nelson, BC so Dave could participate in his first randonee race - the ROAM Randonee Rally.

Nelson. BC

Kootenay Lake

For those who are not familiar, randonee racing or ski mountaineering racing is a winter sport requiring skiers to complete a course incorporating several ascents and descents. The courses involve skate-skiing uphill, skinning uphill, walking uphill with skis on packs and, of course, skiing downhill.

The Coldsmoke course included three trips to the top of the Whitewater ski resort and back down again - for about 5000' of climbing over 8 km.

Race course - modified on race day due to avalanche danger 

At the starting line

Bagpipe start 

And their off!

The race was actually a qualifier for the Canadian Ski Mountaineering Team - the truly competitive racers managed to finish the circuit in about 2 hours! Unfortunately Dave missed the cut off time at the last check point by 9 minutes so he was disqualified.  He still had a fantastic ski and is eager to sign up for the next race.

Final skate-ski to the finish line

Happy to be finished

Win or loose - we got to enjoy a relaxing weekend exploring Nelson, soaking in the Ainsworth Hotsprings and best of all - three days away from the renovation!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Asian Adventure: Day 37 and 38 Homeward Bound

Day 37 Delhi

Wanting to make the most of our last day in India, we woke up bright and early and took to the streets. First things first - Dave wanted to get one last straight razor shave so we returned to the barber around the corner from our hotel.

With Dave freshly shaven, next we caught the metro to the bazaars of Chandi Chowk. Being a Saturday, the streets were full of people, cars, animals and buzzing with excitement. We made friends with an elderly factory manager who declared himself our tour guide pointing out all of his favourite shops and restaurants.

Eventually he guided us to our primary destination - the spice market on Khari Baoli. The spice market stretches out along several city blocks - each side of the street is lined with stalls selling spices, dried fruit and nuts, the street is packed with porters waiting to deliver large burlap sacks full of spices and narrow alleyways spur off in all directions holding the true spice markets where spices are sold by the sack to wholesale distributors. The air was filled with the pungent aroma of chillies - it was impossible not to sneeze!

We spent hours exploring all of the exotic wares and stocking up on all of the fantastic spices that only come ground up in small jars at home. I bought pink salt, black salt, whole turmeric, whole nutmeg, saffron, vanilla beans, cardamon, anise, cloves. Dave bought himself a whole 1 kg of chillies!

Our tour guide lead us to A. Kumar Trading Company - a store specializing in packaged spice mixes. The manager of the store happened to be the guy who had appeared in the Superstore commercials beside Galen Weston when they introduced their Indian frozen dinners! As the commercial promised, the manager sure knew his spices and I left which a wide selection of masala blends and chai mixes.

By this point our arms were well loaded with shopping bags full of spices and we seriously began to worry about the weight of our luggage for our flight home later that night. 

When we grew tired of the bazaars, we made our way towards Connaught Circle in hopes of doing some last minute souvenir shopping. Unfortunately Dave quickly lost his patience with the crowded stores - at one point he even offered to go watch Twilight: Breaking Dawn with me simply to get out of any more shopping - so we found ourselves a quiet spot in a coffee shop to kill time. 

When we got bored of the coffee shop, we returned to the hotel to re-pack our bags, enjoy a leisurely dinner and kill even more time on the Internet.

Finally at 11:00 PM we made our way to the airport, re-packed our bags one more time before checking into our flight and then wandered the airport stores to kill even more time before our flight. We decided to create a game out of seeing how far we could stretch our last few rupees - we managed to score a bag of candy, a sudoku book and two McChicken combos from McDonald's. 

Exhausted from a long day, finally at 3:00 AM we boarded the plane to Beijing and began our long journey back home.

Day 38 Home

After 38 days, 250 km and 25,000 m of trekking, eight planes, two missed planes, three trains and one pony ride we arrived home. Despite how much we love travelling, one of the best rewards of seeing a foreign country is how it reinforces the fact that we live in one of the best places on earth.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

All Things Gold

Just as I have finished changing my entire house over to satin nickle, it seems like the design world has done a 180 and gone gold!

Via CocoCozy



PS. For those who love pillows (who doesn't love pillows?), Honey Were Home is hosting a give-away for the fabulous etsy store Milk and Cookies Canada.

I am hoping to win so I can finally break down and buy my Chiang Mai Dragon pillows.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Asian Adventure: Day 35 and 36 Attack of the Lassi

Day 35 Jaipur

Sure enough by the next morning Dave was sick. Not wanting to waste the day, he took some drugs and we headed off to the Amber Fort.

The Amber Fort is a massive yellow stone fort located high on the hills over Jaipur. From the road you can either walk up several hundred stairs to the fort entrance or take a leisurely elephant ride - unfortunately the guidebooks warn the treatment of the elephants is suspect and Dave did not want to have to make an emergency evacuation from the elephant - so we opted to walk. I still enjoyed seeing all of the brightly painted elephants mosey their way up the road.

The Amber Fort was built in 1592. The complex was a maze of sunny courtyards, stately halls, winding hallways, tight stairs and narrow ramps. We spent hours getting lost and exploring every last corner. Of all of the forts I would have to say this was our favourite - maybe because it was the only one we saw on a sunny day - mostly because the amount of detail that has been preserved/restored in the murals and mosaics.

Ancient washroom

Water lifting system

Water lifting system

Dave was such a trouper and managed to hold out till mid-afternoon. But by 3:00 PM he was exhausted so we hailed an auto-rickshaw back to our hotel, ordered room service - ginger ale for Dave and biryani for me - and spent the rest of the evening watching movies in bed.

Day 36 Jaipur and Sanganer

The next morning, Dave was better but still not well. Despite having taken Durcoral before the trip, I woke up stricken with the bug as well - although thankfully I was not as sick as Dave. It would take almost four weeks for us both to recover fully - all over an innocent lassi!

Considering I had lost my shopping day in Nepal due to our travel delays, we decided to use our last day in Jaipur to the search of souvenirs. I knew I wanted block printed fabrics so we enquired at the hotel where the best stores were - the manager did not know so he phoned his mom who recommended that we head to the village of Sanager on the outskirts of the city. The manager arranged for an auto-rikshaw to drive us around for the day and off we went.

The first place the driver took us was to a company called Sakshi that specializes in the traditional Jaipur handicrafts of block printing and pottery. We got to tour the studio where they were doing the block printing. It is such an amazing process - all of the dyes are natural, made from ancient family recipes and the artisans spend lifetimes perfecting their placements.

Master block print artist
Block print fabrics




We even got to try our hand at our own elephant block print.

Red outline and green fill

Purple fill

Red fill

Green border

Next we got to tour their pottery studio where they make the famous Jaipur blue pottery. Again the entire process is done by hand with all the colours being made naturally from stones and minerals.

Forming bowls


Hand painting

Of course after touring the workshop they take you to the gift shop where I bought myself a set of four salad bowls, a large serving bowl and a whole bunch of Christmas presents.

After Sakshi, the driver took us to several other block print fabric stores, a paper studio where all the paper is handmade out of fabric scraps and a jewelry store. I think it may have worked out quite well that Dave was sick because he was quite happy to sit outside and chat with the driver leaving me free to shop to my hearts content. Despite a full day of shopping, I only ended up buying a quilt and a set of place mats from Anokhi. The taxi driver bought Dave one of the alum shaving stone like the local barbers use - Dave was quite ecstatic with his souvenir. It was quite the challenge to get it all re-packed once we returned to the hotel at the end of the day to catch our train.

At 5:00 PM, we made our way to the train station and surprisingly our train to Delhi was ON TIME! I guess one out of three is not a bad record. We caught the Amjer Shatabdi Express which got us into Delhi shortly before 11:00 PM. We made our way to the hotel - this time knowing to walk right past the taxi drivers trying to scam us - making one stop at the cookie vendor along the way. 
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