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 wild beauty.
A day trip to Lost Lake 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, beside me.
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 orsometimes canoeing through the thick, beautiful lily pads. No smart phone or internet required.
It was simple and easy and fun and Lost Lake takes me right back 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:
Just the right ending to a slow, sweet summer day.
Beware the barrenness of a busy life. – Socrates
Meandering through an old growth forest, running along a pristine beach that seems to go on forever, watching the sunset from the top of a mountain.
These are some of the things you can get up to when visiting beautiful Vancouver Island and here are a few snapshots of my recent visit there.
Last Sunday I felt the need to unplug from the city so my pup and I headed to a sweet stretch of beaches a little west of my home and spent the day soaking up West Coast nature.
We ran through the slippery, slimy (but therapeutic) mud of low tide.
The answer to that? A yummy Chunky Monkey smoothie..
1 scoop chocolate protein powder of your choice
1 T cacao (organic raw is most delicious)
1.5 cups almond milk
1 scoop ice cubes for a milkshake consistency
I did my first Grouse Grind of the season yesterday and, because I actually managed to stagger to the top of the mountain, I feel like I deserve a delicious, chilled cocktail tonight.
I had forgotten just how grueling the infamous, straight-up-the-mountain trek is. My little heart was pounding (feverishly at times), I was covered in sweat for, oh I don’t know, maybe 99% of the climb and my breathing was reminiscent of Darth Vader.
Yep, I definitely deserve a drink.
As you probably know if you’re following me/reading this, my blog is dedicated to healthy living, so I like to keep my drinks as healthy as possible too. My kind of cocktail has to be tasty but also shouldn’t negate my hard work and discipline during the previous week. So that means minimal sugar and all natural ingredients. No high fructose corn syrup, food colouring or sweet liqueurs allowed in the house.
I’m sharing a recipe for one of my summer faves that meets all of the criteria. It’s naturally sweet, pure and simple, and also full of hydrating, antioxidant watermelon.
If there ever was a guilt free cocktail, this is it:
Blend all ingredients together, pour into one of your favourite glasses, sit back and watch the world go by….
My patio is my summer sanctuary, surrounded by trees and filled with herbs, tomatoes, wheat grass and lavender. With my little Terrier resting at my feet, it’s my favourite place to have dinner on a warm summer night.
And my favourite dinner? A great, big Farmer’s Market salad, like this one..
Did you know that summer berries are the best way to get antioxidant, fiber rich, vitamin filled goodness into your body? Put them in smoothies and salads, add a little avocado (full of omega 3 fat) and watch your skin glow.
Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette
Vancouverites have a reputation of being very fit. So much so that the last time I visited LA, an Angeleno loudly announced at a cocktail party that Vancouver was home to the fittest people in North America. That’s quite an honour coming from a resident of the land of the beautiful. I was surprised at her statement but also smiled a little proudly. It’s a good rep to have.
So why are we Vancouverites so fit? Well, the Grouse Grind is definitely a factor. Spending a morning climbing a mountain with an 800 metre elevation will get you fit fast. But we also have our gorgeous Stanley Park Seawall. It’s an 8.8k stretch of scenic, natural beauty and we love to bike, jog, rollerblade and power walk along it.
Last Sunday was one of those perfect, hot, late summer days, so I leashed up the pup and hit the iconic seawall for a long, long power walk.
After passing the Lions Gate Bridge, Siwash Rock, on the North side of the park is the next landmark and is one of Vancouver’s special, mystical places.
The plaque in front of Siwash reads: “Native Legend tells us that this 50 foot high pinnacle of rock stands as an imperishable monument to “Skalsh the Unselfish” who was turned into stone by “Quas the Transformer” as a reward for his unselfishness.” I’m not sure that being turned to stone is the best reward for good behaviour, but, nonetheless, Siwash is a stunning and powerful place.
Next stop is English Bay and the iconic Sylvia Hotel.
If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company. – Jean Paul Sartre
I made sure The Nickster was happy, leashed up with a chew stick and then sat at the cute little lavender table overlooking the ocean. The Sylvia was originally built in the early 1900’s as a luxury apartment building and is now one of our oldest and most character filled hotels.
Another bonus is that the servers are uber-friendly. After saying hello to Nicky, my waiter and I got into and in-depth discussion about our mutual love of Yorkies and a few minutes later he was sitting down with me, pulling out his smart phone and proudly showing me his Yorkie niece, Mia and nephew, Niko. All I can say is that if you’re dining alone in the city and want to feel completely comfortable, The Sylvia is the place to be.
I settled in with a chilled glass of Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris.
And delectable crab and prawn cakes.
Dinner finished, it was time to walk the last stretch home. The golden hour was basking the bay in a lovely glow, the sun hanging low in the sky.
People were everywhere, lounging on the grass, sitting on blankets; older couples were holding hands on park benches, all staring at the sea. I plopped down on a park bench, Nick curled up to an elderly woman beside him and fell asleep.
And, in silence, we all watched together as the glowing sun sank into the cool, silvery Pacific. A beautiful way to end the day.
Watermelon is extraordinarily hydrating, with lots of phyto-nutrients. There is a theory that it is even more hydrating than water because of it’s vitamin and mineral content absorbing so readily into our systems. And another miracle worker, cucumber, may prevent hangovers due to it’s B vitamin and electrolyte content. So, I thought, why not come up with a cocktail containing both of these ingredients? Wouldn’t the anti-hangover ingredients mitigate the vodka content and create a hangover free beverage?
I decided to do extensive, in-depth research and I believe I’ve come up with a no-hangover, summer cocktail…
Juicy Summer Martini
In a martini glass, muddle cucumber. Blend watermelon until liquid, add mint and vodka.
Pour blended liquid into your favourite stemware, garnish with a fresh lime slice and enjoy a delicious, hangover-less martini. Bottoms up!
Write drunk; edit sober. – Ernest Hemmingway