Thursday, September 23, 2010

Visit to the Museum of Civilizations

If you are ever in Ottawa, a must-visit attraction is the Museum of Civilizations. We spent over 4 hours wandering the museum and we still only managed to visit the first two floors. The museum is the most popular museum attraction in Canada, and with good reason. The architecture is incredible. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. Located directly on the Ottawa River, the setting is breathtaking. The museum was designed by architect Douglas Cardinal.

The best part of the museum is the First People's Hall and the Grand Hall, both of which house the exhibit of Canada's Aborginal Peoples. The dome in the Grand Hall features a wonderful abstract painting called "Morning Star". If I lived in Ontario or Quebec, I would probably visit this museum on a monthly basis.

Definitely worth a return visit the next time we're in Ottawa!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Loonies & Toonies

As we were staying a mere 1.5 hours away from the Canadian border, we decided to spend a night in Ottawa. Ottawa is an amazing city. First of all, it is insanely clean. Everyone rides their bikes or walks to work and in the winter they skate to work on the canal! The architecture in the city is beautiful. The people are friendly. It's just a great place and it made me want to explore more of Canada (this was my first time visiting our neighbor to the North). Instead of dollar bills though, they have loonies ($1 coins) and toonies ($2 coins). That is my one complaint about Canada: I do not like coins. But moving on...

We visited the ByWard Market, which is an incredible daily farmer's market. There are also various shops and eateries within the market. The produce was the best I had ever seen. And berries in August!!! Sign me up. We bought a small container of wild blueberries and they were like the fruit equivalent of crack. The produce was all local to Ontario and Quebec. Everyone in Ottawa speaks both French and English because part of the province is is Quebec, where French is the official language. The market reminded me so much of my time in Paris and in Aix-En-Provence. I wish they had more daily open-air markets in the United States.

We spent over an hour just walking around and ogling the produce, cheeses, breads, and pastries. We stopped for lunch and had some quiche and shared a few delicious sweets (the one pictured was a heavenly pistachio mousse pastry).

Even though we were only 3 hours away from the US border, it really did feel like we were in another country, which was nice.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Adirondack Vacation

In celebration of our 9 year wedding anniversary, we went on a week-long vacation to the Adirondacks in New York. We stayed in Trout Lake, in the upper region of the Adirondacks. The setting was absolutely breathtaking, just unspoiled wilderness and clean, fresh air. It was quite relaxing. We made delicious meals and a lot of coffee, napped, swam and kayaked every day, took out the motor boat a few times, and I snapped a lot of photos. Our cabin was lovely - rustic, but comfortable.

Our favorite activity was definitely kayaking. We are hooked! As we live on the Chesapeake Bay, there are lots of local kayaking opportunities, so we decided that sooner or later we definitely need to get two kayaks and an appropriate roof rack for the car.

The vacation was wonderful and we will cherish the memories for many many years. I hope we'll be able to return to the area again next year.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Summer Icebox Cake

Few things are as relaxing to me as flipping through cooking magazines in the evening on the couch, dog-earring pages of recipes I'd like to try. I subscribe to Cooks Illustrated, Bon Appetit, and Whole Living, but I have also been known to pick up other titles that catch my eye at Whole Foods. I found this icebox cake recipe in a Martha Stewart Living magazine earlier this summer. This Chocolate Banana icebox cake combines my favorite chocolate add-in: bananas! You can find the recipe here.

This recipe was easy to make, but be forewarned, it requires A LOT of chocolate. I chose to top the cake with raspberries instead of whipped cream because I felt the cake was already rich enough with all the chocolate. Plus, I like the combo of bananas and raspberries. I served this cake for dessert one evening when Jess and Mike came over for dinner. I would surely make this recipe again, despite the fact that I don't even care too much for chocolate. Generally I prefer fruit desserts. Also, it was nice during the heat wave to not have to turn on the oven, I must admit.

Photo (taken with my iPhone) of the final product.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Summer jaunt to Terrain at Styers

We went to Terrain again with Andrew and Chad! We're pretty much going once per season at this point, which I think is a good rate. Fall is still my favorite time there though-- PUMPKINS! I'm so excited for our October trip.

As usual, we had lunch at the Cafe. It was especially delicious this time. They served us bread in a small terra cotta pot, which I thought was such a cute idea. I am going to try to recreate it at home.

After lunch, we wandered around the nursery and the store. Lots of canning books and supplies. I picked up this book, and am anxious to test out some of the recipes, especially some of the fruit leathers. I also FINALLY broke down and bought The New Terrarium. I love having indoor plants, but unfortunately the cats enjoy eating them and kicking the dirt out of the pots, so covered terrariums and ferns on high shelves are the only way to have plants in the house.

Of course it was wonderful to see Chad and Andrew. We have all been friends for a decade now and it is so easy and fun to spend time with them. I miss our college years when we lived down the street from each other and could more easily just get together to go to a concert or grab some ice cream. I hold out hope that one day we'll all live in the same city again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

All Delighted People

If you have not purchased the Sufjan Stevens "All Delighted People" EP, you should correct this travesty and go download it right now. The video above is a live recording from a concert in Brooklyn. The EP version is orchestrally (yes, I just made up that word) epic. E.P.I.C. We're going to see him in concert in Philadelphia in November. The last time we saw him live was five years ago, in New York. We both cried a lot. It was just so moving and beautiful. Next to Leonard Cohen, it was the best concert I've ever attended (I cried at that concert a lot too). I'm such a sap.