Sunday, 17 November 2013

Our Final Week in Van City...

So our last week in Vancouver consisted of lots of farewells! like my last day at work! A few days before they very sneakily told me to bring the autistic boys I worked with into a classroom at lunchtime for a farewell - I was thinking it was a farewell for the boys as one of them was moving onto High School...but as I walked in and everyone was staring at me I realised I'd been tricked! Not many of the kids really understood what was going on but they saw there was cake so they all shouted happy birthday! haha, it was quite cute!

 My amazing colleagues, knowing my love of cupcakes had arranged for this giant cupcake cake to be made for me! Isn't it awesome! it had a giant aeroplane flying all the way from Canada back to England! and there was even coconut and chocolate cupcakes and all my favourite treats! Sadly all my photos from it were saved to my work email and I've lost them since, but it was a lovely surprise! I was a bit horrified because I'd had pretty bad morning sickness that day before I left for work so I hadn't even bothered to put make up on and suddenly everyone was taking pictures of me! so maybe it's for the best they went missing! They made me a lovely photobook of all my memories from Maywood School and all the autistic kids in the school put together a book of their favourite things about Canada and things I needed to try before I left - it was super cute! 


Here I am with Erin and Sue - I couldn't have done my job without these ladies! I worked with a boy who liked to flee the classroom quite a lot and Sue worked in the classroom opposite so whenever she saw me chasing him down the hall she'd be out quick as a flash to assist, and Erin had worked with him before I got there so she was always a huge help in dealing with him too! They were always on hand to crack some jokes and make the stressful part of my job less stressful! and they indulged me constantly talking about cake and baked goods! haha...

and here I am with the classroom teacher I worked with, Arnold.  You've heard me talk about him alot, him and his partner were so good to Byron and I and lent us their truck far too many times to recall for us to have fun Whistler adventures or to see all the sights when we had family here - I loved everyone I worked with at Maywood School - and it was pretty sad saying goodbye to everyone!


On the day I finished work, we headed to this place on Main St called Roots Cafe, By had been promising to take me there for yummy treats for a while after he discovered it on a study session one day.  The best part was when I ordered and asked the guy behind the counter if they made their milkshakes with ice cream, he looked at me like I was crazy! He was like 'what else would we make them with?!' I told him tons of places in England only use milk so I was just checking...he was like 'well that's not a milkshake'! I was like you're telling me! He kept shaking his head and couldn't get over the fact that crazy Europeans think milkshakes can be made without ice cream - he promised to make mine extra thick to make up for all the mediocre shakes I've had to put up with living on the wrong side of the pond! It was seriously tasty!!

 The next night I had a serious craving for pizza, like I couldn't stop thinking about it the whole way home and it couldn't just be any pizza - it had to be the good kind! The real good authentic stonebaked kind!


So we stopped at the oh so cute Via Tevere over on Victoria Drive.  Check out that little car out front! It was super amazing pizza! and was worth the queue we had to join just to indulge in some!

On the Saturday we checked out the International Buskers Festival on Granville St with Cassie and Peter.  It was a beautiful sunny day in the city, and was fun to be out and about taking everything in.

This street art was pretty cool!

and this guy Reuben Dot Dot Dot! had come all the way from Australia to showcase his talents! We were impressed with his skills,

but of course the favourite part of our day was heading back to Tacofino, and introducing it to Cassie and Peter!

Since they've lived in Texas before they know what good Mexican should taste like so they have pretty high standards! 

I was glad our meal lived up to expectations!

and they certainly never disappoint with their desserts! this was a chocolate cookie ice cream sandwich filled with horchata flavour ice cream!

and because no Mexican meal is complete without a happy churro ending we had to give their banana churros a try!

The next day the sun was out in full force again! so we gathered all our favourite people and headed to Kitsilano Beach for an afternoon of Beach and BBQ fun! 

Did you know you can't buy disposable BBQ's in Canada? I guess no one needs them when they bring their beefy real deals down to the beach!

Peter was the BBQ king in charge of grilling up those tasty burgers!

and nothing makes me happier than stripey straws!

Nicole brought a little bit of American patriotism to our picnic by making these delicious sugar cookies..

and topping them with blue and red berries!

Kristen made these amazing white choc and pecan cookies! and Jen made some delicious crumble - one thing you can be sure there was never a shortage of good desserts when we got together! 

  I whipped up a tropical fruit salad because when it's so sunny outside you just have to!

We played this ladder toss game, and things got pretty serious when it was boys vs girls!

Is this not the most perfect setting? green grass, sandy beach, blue ocean and mountains in the background!

 The boys also gave badminton a go...until wind stopped play!

We had a few rounds of beach volleyball which took me right back to our ward beach volleyball nights when we lived in Turks and Caicos!

I quickly became official photographer after I kept forgetting I was pregnant and diving for the ball a little too frequently!

I love this action shot! and this one below of Jeff in slow motion!

We took this group shot just before we all had to start heading home - have you ever seen a group of happier more lovely people? Oh, how we miss these friends of ours!

and I could take photos of Kate and Lila all day! They are super cute!

 We left just as the sun was setting over the ocean...

Writing this post is making my heart break for how much we miss this place!!

On Monday, it was Canada Day! So we celebrated by our friends cooking us up an amazing Mexican feast at their cool apartment downtown - I wished I'd taken pictures but I was too busy stuffing my face full of super delish slow cooked tacos and homemade guacamole!

After dinner, we tried our first taste of Marble Slab ice cream (Canada's equivalent of Coldstone) which was amazing...and then headed down to the waterfront to catch the fireworks!

I had taken my little Canadian flag along to wave it patriotically among all the other people in the crowd dressed in red and white!

It was the perfect end to our last few hours left in our favourite place!

 We got home pretty late...finished up the last of our packing and a few hours later we were awake again to begin our American road trip adventure - up next!!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Birthday Sweets & Treats

So it's sort of a tradition that on my birthday I like to go out and eat as many sweet things as possible! Last year I did it in London, the year before that it was in London again, the year before that in Shropshire! and this time I was celebrating in Vancouver!

So we started unofficially on the 21st by a trip across the border! It was just a short one because we had to get our visa for entering America reissued in time for our epic road trip (which I am eventually going to blog about in 2 more posts time...well done for being patient!) and so apparently we had to have a reason for crossing the border, the border official would not just let us cross to get our visa issue cleared up so we told him we were going for milkshakes at Sonic! He looked rather in why would you drive to a whole other country just for milkshakes - clearly he's never been to Sonic before! 

Neither had Byron, so this was his excited for Sonic face! 

The last time I went to Sonic I was 17, it was in Georgia and I remember being completely enthralled by the fact you could sit in your your order and someone brought it out to you on roller skates! For was as American as you can get! For some weird reason I didn't get a milkshake all those years ago, I'm thinking I must have got side tracked by root beer. This time around I was spoilt for choice - Sonic has an amazing shake collection!

 but in the end coconut cream pie (of course) won out! and it may have been the most delicious flavour ever!!

There goes our little rollerskating waitress!


For me...we could have ended my birthday right there and I would have been happy - I'm easily pleased! but the birthday fun continued all weekend long.

Cassie and Peter had a games night at their place with all our friends and lots of delicious cake! 2 in fact since Cassie and I are nearly birthday twins...with our birthday's just 2 days apart! They came from an amazing patisserie bakery and were super delish..



The next morning...on my actual bday we opened a few prezzies.

   This was the envelope By decorated for me, it's meant to have all my favourite things on it like toasting s'mores around the campfire, cupcakes, the beach but somehow the rain and Scotland made it on there so I'm thinking they were the ironic additions!


 After present opening we headed out to this farmer's market at Trout Lake I'd been excited to check out. Sadly, it wasn't really like a UK farmer's market and literally just had veg...where were all the cakes and meringues and treats?!



and there was only one food truck, aside from a crepe truck, called pig on the street...


Fortunately it sold this really amazing bacon wrap that was pretty special.  It was double smoked bacon, with sausage, bacon, sage and apple stuffing and apple chutney!


 so I sort of forgave the market for not having a better selection. It also left me room for all the other treats I'd planned for the day...

Like passion fruit and coconut truffles from Cadeaux Bakery.. and a coconut and raspberry pinwheel jelly sweet from Beta 5 Chocolates


and this amazing Oreo layer cake from The Last Crumb Cafe, one of my faves.

We also stopped off at The Baker and The Chef

to check out their cookie situation...

After a spot of baby shopping in Old Navy and picking up these cute onesies..

We dined at Tacofino...finally! I have been wanting to visit this place ever since we moved here!

 Vancouver is spoilt for choice with Mexican restaurants but I had heard the best reviews about here! It is over in East Van and not somewhere we go too often but since our lovely friends from church had lent us their car for the weekend we were able to make the most of going wherever we pleased!


So we headed there for an amazing birthday dinner! Definitely some of the best taco's ever...

pork jowl with pineapple salsa - yummy!


duck carnitas tostada with apple!

and chicken karaage with avocado! Oh man, I'm wishing we could indulge in some of these again! and when you're meal is accompanied by a Jarritos in a jar you know it's going to be good! 

and oh my, this deconstructed key lime pie was definitely the sweet treat to top all other sweet treats!

I could not have been happier as we sauntered back to our car, feeling incredibly full, and checking out the setting sun over the Van City skyline. 

To top it all off, our friends Jeff and Jessie invited the whole gang over after church on Sunday for an amazing pulled pork feast! 

and too many desserts to top it off, that's just how we roll! 

 It was an amazing birthday weekend, but heartbreaking to think that in just a few weeks our Canadian fun would all be over!