Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Strawberry Fields

During the summer, each month brings the availability of a different fruit or vegetable. On Vancouver Island, May/June is the time to go strawberry picking.

Strawberry Facts and Tips (source)

  • Select plump, firm, fully red berries. The small berries are often the most flavourful.
  • One cup of strawberries contains only 43 calories.
  • Unripe berries will not ripen once picked.
  • U-pick strawberries are much healthier than store-bought. Consumer reports says store bought strawberries have so many pesticide and fungicide residues on them that they don't recommend you eat them!
  • It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to pick a quart, if the berries are reasonably plentiful.
  • Strawberries were originally called “strewberries” because the fruit was “strewn” amongst the leaves of the plant. (When Léah was very little, she called them “straw babies”.)
  • Cultivation of strawberries began in Europe in the 1300’s, but the berry only became very popular in the early 1900’s in California.
  • You can easily freeze berries that you can not use right away - just wash, cut the hulls off and pop them into a Ziploc bag, removing as much air as possible. The berries will keep for many months frozen without air.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea off the Venezuelan coast. It is the largest and most populous of the three ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao).

Curaçao features architecture that blends Dutch and Spanish colonial styles. The wide range of historic buildings in and around Willemstad earned the capital a place on UNESCO's world heritage list.

The Floating Market in Punda is one of Curaçao's most famous and picturesque sights. Venezuelan merchants sell their fresh produce from small fishing boats. During the days and nights that they spend on the island between their trips to and from Venezuela, their fishing boats double as living quarters.

Affectionately nicknamed the “Swinging Old Lady,” Queen Emma Bridge is one of the oldest and longest non-military pontoon bridges in the world. Its unique design was a necessity; by the time a bridge was contemplated, buildings covered every inch of shoreline on the Punda side of the channel and a traditional bridge would have required destruction of many structures. When the original 20-foot wide steam-powered pontoon bridge was completed in 1888, tolls were charged: two cents for pedestrians wearing shoes, ten cents for horses and, later, 25 cents for each car, but so many pedestrians removed their shoes and crossed barefoot that the toll was finally eliminated (reference).

When a boat needs to pass, the pontoon bridge is driven open to allow passage. When fully open, the bridge is parallel to the shore.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Relay For Life

This past Saturday, we had our 12th annual neighbourhood garage sale. The event is named “Garagellennium” and it is the ultimate garage sale - imagine tons of houses in one area having garage sales all at the same time. The community becomes one big open market for a day.

Our children decided that this year, we would have our own garage sale in front of our house and all of the proceeds would be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society for the Relay For Life this upcoming weekend. They worked extremely hard for 6 hours and raised over $200!

The kids sold a variety of items ranging from lemonade and cookies to organic zucchini plants and toys.

Naimah even donated her princess bicycle and playhouse to raise money.

The customers had a difficult time resisting the hard sell on the lemonade and cookies.

Naimah was so dedicated that she practically didn’t leave the cash register for the entire day.

Our three children put all their hearts into the project. Léah was the banker, Gabriel organized the inventory, and Naimah was the captain and anchor of the team.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Aruba is a 33 km-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 km north of the coast of Venezuela. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands.

Aruba is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, together with the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten whose citizens share a single nationality: Dutch citizen. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather.

The joy of burying one’s brother in the sand.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Saint Vincent

Saint Vincent is a volcanic island in the Caribbean. It is the largest island of the chain called Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is located in the Caribbean Sea, between Saint Lucia and Grenada. It is composed of partially submerged volcanic mountains.

Mainland St Vincent is one of the few places on Earth that can boast about having black-sand beaches and white-sand in the same country. The majority of the beaches on the mainland have black sand (more than 95%), while all of the beaches in the Grenadines have white sand.

Saint Vincent remains so pristine that its coastline provided an authentic colonial backdrop for filming the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

The kids enjoyed exploring the beaches and playing with the locals.

Barbies are truly international.

Sharing the love of discovering marine life.

Just be careful not to step on this.

And Mélanie didn’t like the slimy, snakelike creatures.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Seuss Landing

Dr. Seuss never drew straight lines in his illustrations. Everything was curved, slanted or "wonky." Thus, there are no straight lines in “Seuss Landing” at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park.

“The Cat in the Hat” ride takes you through the pages of Dr. Seuss's best-loved children's book. The kids were crazy about this ride and wanted to do it over and over again.

Gabriel enjoyed splashing me on “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”. As you fly low and fly high, spinning and swooping around and around, you pass an array of fountains that squirt in time to a musical rhyme. You need to pay attention to the words and do what they say if you don't want to get wet. Gabriel made sure that his timing was right to get me wet.

Photos with famous characters.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is an island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. The volcanic island is more mountainous than many other Caribbean islands. Two volcanic plugs, the Pitons, form the island's most famous landmark.

We took a water taxi down to a beach between the two Pitons, south of Soufrière.

On the way back up to Castries, we stopped at a site that was used to film a scene in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.