Friday, July 31, 2009

Charlotte's Upcoming Brother Or Sister

Yes, that's right! Baby #2 is on the way! It's "Facebook official" too, where Natasha's status received 40 comments yesterday. Too bad we don't have that kind of participation on the blog!

So, here we go again! The baby is about six weeks along and is due in March, and yes, of course we will be keeping you in the loop!

Post a comment with your guess as to whether it will be a boy or girl, and a name suggestion if you have one. When the baby is born, we will refer back to this post to see who was right!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alaskan Cruise: Food Report

This is the post everyone has been waiting for! Now, we knew that you'd want to know everything we ate in detail, so we kept a running list on just about every meal and snack we ate on the cruise, all listed below with photos for you to read and enjoy!

Sunday

Lunch: Seven Seas
The Seven Seas is one of two main dining rooms on the ship. It is typically more formal, especially in the evenings.

Appetizers - Split pea soup with scallions, and Tapas Salsa
Meals - Chicken Alfredo with feta cheese, Grilled American Club Sandwich
Dessert - Bluberry peach cobbler, Fruit plate with cottage cheese

Second Lunch: Sail-Away Party on the pool deck
The minute we left shore, a big BBQ party started on the top deck of the ship. Two massive circular BBQs were set up, cooking up all sorts of delicious meats and vegetables.


The Sail-Away BBQ! Yes, food brings smiles to our faces.

The food list - Pork ribs, grilled chicken, pork chop, corn on the cob, veggie rice, pretzel buns, and cabbage salad.

Snack 1: Garden Cafe
The snacking begins! The Garden Cafe is the main buffet where you can also stop by for some dessert, or a treat from the icecream shop.

Snacks - Brownie, cheese sampler, jello, and icecream.

Snack 2 - Las Ramblas
The first day was all about exploring the ship, and we made our way to this cozy Tapas Bar. They have a variety of appetizers which you can pick and choose from... a great place for a little evening snack too.

Treats we enjoyed - Olives, mushrooms, potato skins, spicy sausage skewers, deep fried squid with garlic mayo, bread medallions with ham and tomato, and spinach turnovers. Keep in mind we're talking about one or two bites of each item.

Supper: Ginzo Sushi
Ginzo is one of the specialty restaurants on the ship. A few of these exist and charge a flat rate per person, in this case $15. We thought we would start off with something light and refreshing, but as we'd been eating all day, we were half stuffed already and didn't even finish our food.


Miso soup, salmon and tuna sashimi, ebi sushi, shrimp tempura roll, godzilla roll (shrimp, mango, avocado, caramelized cashews, coconut), and a dynamite roll were all included in what you see above.

Monday

Breakfast: Garden Cafe
Scrambled eggs, pecan bread, sausages, pineapple and mixed fruit, country potatoes, a grey hard boiled egg, apple and orange juice, Peppermint and Earl Grey tea.

Lunch: Pacific Heights
This restaurant is free, and serves up pizza and pasta, which they make to order right in front of you.

Andrew ordered Penne Alfredo with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and broccoli while Natasha got Rigatoni and bolognese sauce with sun-dried tomato, mushrooms, and onion. Don't forget the one piece of veggie pizza too.

Supper: Seven Seas (formal night)
We got dressed up for this meal, along with many other people in the dining room.

To start - Bread & butter, baby shrimp cocktail, and an asparagus, bean, and scallop salad.


Natasha had the Lobster with rice, grilled veggies, and fish.


Andrew tried Beef Wellington with veggies.


Creme brûlée for dessert, Natasha's favorite


Plain but tasty strawberry sherbet for Andrew


Snack #1: Sports Bar
The Sports Bar is open nearly every hour of the day and night and is a great place to pick up a quick snack or something to nibble on late in the evening.

On this visit - Nachos with cheese and guacamole, and a plate of fish and chips.
For a snack later that evening - Spinach and artichoke dip (which was really bad), and 10 mild buffalo wings.

Tuesday

Breakfast: Room Service
On those days that we were docked, we ordered breakfast to our room so we could eat and get off the ship as quickly as possible since we slept in. Ordering is made easy. Just fill out a card and hang it on your door before you go to bed. The food will arrive at your specified time.

On the menu - Small Danishes, fruit plates, cold cereal, and juice.

Lunch: Great Outdoor Cafe
This cafe is a large seating area on the top deck right at the back of the ship. Along with it is a smaller buffet which is in service on slightly different hours than the main buffet to make sure you have some place to get food at all times.

The fare - Mushroom burger, hot dog, Caesar salad, and potato salad.

Supper: Il Adagio
Our second visit to specialty restaurants was Il Adagio, serving Italian food.

Appetizers - Deep-fried Calamari, and Caesar salad.


Lobster ravioli


Shrimp Risotto


Ricotta cheesecake with strawberries


Chocolate torte with spiced apricots

This torte was by far Andrew's favorite dessert of the trip.


Vanilla and chocolate custard.

What? Three desserts? You bet! We couldn't decide, so our waiter suggested that we just get all three. The custard was a bit eggy...

Wednesday

Breakfast: Room Service
More of the same - Danishes and muffins, fruit plates, orange and grapefruit juice.

Lunch
This lunch was a special one, which we combined a total of four restaurants to complete.

1. Sail-away BBQ - This appeared to be a lunchtime tradition anytime the ship leaves a port. Pork ribs, BBQ chicken, grilled salmon.
2. Great Outdoor Cafe - Alaskan halibut, potato salad, French fries. After getting food from the first two places, we found a seat indoors as it was chilly outside.
3. Las Ramblas - Natasha was cold so I went upstairs to get some vegetable consume.
4. Garden Cafe - For dessert, of course - Pecan pie and jello.

Supper: Great Outdoor Cafe
You're probably getting the picture by now. The food is unlimited, but the places to eat aren't. Still, the food is tasty, and casual, so here we are.

Chowed down on - A hamburger, hot dog, halibut in cream sauce, and French fries.

Snacks: Las Ramblas
Picked up - Mushrooms, olives, spinach turnovers, potato skins, and calamari. On the way back, picked up 10 hot wings, and tomato soup with croutons from the Sports bar.

Thursday

Breakfast: Great Outdoor Cafe
Eggs, bacon, sausage, muffins, pastry, fruit, bread w/ deli meat and cheese, apple juice, and milk.

Lunch: Great Outdoor Cafe (seriously)
Hamburger, hot dog, fries, cheese and strawberry on a pretzel bun, tuna croissant, brownies, and a scone.

Supper: Seven Seas
Appetizers - Scallops, and citrus fruit with apple cider vinaigrette.
Meals - Turkey dinner with brussel sprouts, stuffing, sweet potato, and cranberry sauce. Baked flounder with asparagus.

Dessert - Four Seasons (chocoholic buffet)
Our first visit to this dining room. What did we eat here? Just a couple of too-sweet items.

Friday

Breakfast: Pick-up from one of the buffets
Natasha was ready early and went out to get some Wheaties, Special K, pastries, muffins, and apple and orange juice.

Lunch: Great Outdoor Cafe
Mushroom cheeseburgers, salad, and fries.

Supper: Four Seasons
Our first meal at this dining room.

Appetizers - Chilled Strawberry soup, and marinated seafood salsa.
To eat - Rack of lamb with lentils and potatoes. "Surf and more Surf" (lobster, scallop, shrimp, red snapper over Linguine, and asparagus).
Dessert - Flourless chocolate molten raspberry cake.

Evening Snack: Garden Cafe
Chicken strips, pretzel bread, beef sauté, and baked pasta with cheese.

Saturday

Breakfast: Great Outdoor Cafe
Eggs, bacon, potatoes, muffins, pastries, and pineapple.

Lunch: Great Outdoor Cafe
Mini-steaks, potato salad, Caesar salad
Dessert - Pudding with maraschino cherry from the Garden Cafe

Supper: Four Seasons
By the end of the cruise, I started to think we should have come here more often...


Appetizer - Escargot!


... also, Salmon tartar.


Pecan crusted Snapper with Balsamic rice


English Strip-loin with Yorkshire pudding


Warm Coconut soufflé


Chocolate and raspberry torte

Snacks: Garden Cafe
Baked pasta, meatballs, spring rolls, jello, cheesecake, chocolate covered strawberries.

Sunday

Breakfast: Four Seasons
Leaving the ship in style, we dropped into the dining room for our good-bye breakfast.

Both of us had biscuits and gravy, sausage, bacon, and coffee.

Q & A

Q: What about all the shrimp?
A: It turned out that on this cruise, the shrimp were not falling from the sky. In total, we had about 8 or 9 shrimp.

Q: How did you eat all this and gain only a couple of pounds?
A: That is a great question, one which will be revealed in Chapter 8 of our book on cruise dining, "Take the stairs, chunkers!".

We hope you've enjoyed this food post. Watch for our fourth and final blog post on our cruise coming sometime within the next week.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Alaskan Cruise: Ports Of Call

The second installment of photos from our cruise to Alaska focuses on the Ports of Call that the ship visited during the seven days. Technically there were three, but I am throwing in one more because it was a bit of a special trip.

Ketchican

Our first stop in Alaska was Ketchican. It is really a neat experience to wake up in the morning, look out the window, and be docked in a new town.


Welcome to Alaska!


Natasha in the streets of Ketchican.

We found Ketchican to be a somewhat rundown place, but we took a walking tour that took us all through the old section of town so we may have a different perception than those who stick to the newer areas. There is a lot to do, but due to the short time we were docked there, we didn't do any activities, only some sightseeing and shopping.

One thing that you will notice in both photos above is the prevalence of diamond and jewelery shops. The towns that cruise ships stop in are literally stuffed with them, as apparently people go cruising especially for this type of shopping. We steered clear and kept to the more interesting shops and sights.


Here we are by the water after some shopping.


A picturesque view of Ketchican.

Even though we found some areas of town to be in rough shape, there are some great views to be had, this being one of them. You can see that some of these building reside on piers, and it is a fact that a significant part of the town is built out over the water.


One of the nice decorative statues on the pier.


This type of flower could be seen throughout Alaska.

Juneau

You would think that the capital city of the state would be a lengthy stop, but as it happens, the cruise ship had a mere half a day at the port, so we were off and on the boat within a couple of hours. For those eager to get up early, they had more time, but this was our vacation!


A quick glimpse of Juneau.

When we arrived in Juneau, we had no planned activities. However, we quickly found a ton of tour companies selling cheap trips via bus up to a glacier. So, for under $30 (cheap for an excursion), off we went. It turned out to be a nice little trip which included some hiking, and some good photo opportunities. On the bus ride we saw up to 50 bald eagles, as well as the only actual Starbucks shop of the entire trip. Here are two photos of the glacier.


Above and below photos show the Mendenhall Glacier near Junea.

Did you know that 5% of Alaska is covered by glaciers?


Tracy Arm Fjord & the Sawyer Glacier

This wasn't a port of call, but it was a special stop that the ship made so I am counting it here. In order to see this glacier, the cruise ship must pass through the Tracy Arm Fjord, a narrow valley of water, going 30 miles in. The scenery was amazing, as were the iceburgs, and we even spotted a seal or two.


Proudly posing in front of the glacier.

Skagway

Our last stop of the trip, Skagway, was the longest of them all, 13 hours. As usual, we slept in and were off the boat by 9:30 or 10am. We had to be back on board by 8:30pm so there was no rush.


The main road down through Skagway.

We found Skagway to be the nicest and best kept town. Juneau seemed bigger, but just in terms of the touristy district, we liked Skagway the best. This was the only place we were able to find Starbucks coffee, although it was not actually a true Starbucks location (they just served all the same drinks).

Just after noon, we boarded the White Pass & Yukon Route train which takes you up the mountain following the same route that the people took during the gold rush and which they eventually built a train route for.


All aboard!

This train ride gives one a good insight into just what was involved in travel during the gold rush era. It also provides some great photo opportunities. The round trip is about three and a half hours, a pleasant way to spend the afternoon with your traveling partner.


Andrew in front of one of the engines.


In the train station.


Later in the afternoon and after supper back on the ship, we went out for a little more shopping. This photo is looking back from further down the main street towards where the cruise ships are docked. Unfortunately, it was at this very moment that the sun decided to shine... the last hour before we headed home.


Our boat on the right, the Norwegian Sun

After the last stop, we boarded the cruise ship and enjoyed a relaxing two day trip back to the port of Vancouver. Overall, we enjoyed the cities we visited, and if we were to return, would likely have many other things to see and do, especially now that we know what's there!

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Alaskan Cruise: Photo Report

Hello everyone! We returned to the Port of Vancouver this morning from our Alaskan Cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun. As you can well imagine, it would take hours of talking and pages of text to relate everything that happened during the week, so we have selected 15 photos that provide a general overview of the trip and what we saw and did. Enjoy!


Off we go! See you in a week, Charlotte!


The feasting begins...

You guessed it, one of the first things we did was visit one of the dining rooms for lunch. What we didn't realize was that more food was coming our way soon. Immediately after the safety drill came the "Sail Away Party" on the pool deck which featured two giant BBQ's grilling up chicken, pork ribs, fish, and corn, along with rice and possibly a few other side dishes. This is what you are seeing in the photo above.


Sushi dinner.

Still the first day, and we've only been on the ship about seven or eight hours. Lunch, Sail Away BBQ, then off to the on-board sushi restaurant which we made reservations for, not realizing what was happening. This first day was a good lesson about pacing our eating throughout the day, and was probably the first time ever that we have not eaten all our sushi.


The lovely atrium, the center of the ship.


Our stateroom.

The stateroom we had was small but comfortable enough for two people. Twice we got towel animals, seen above and below.



The window was large enough to both look out at the scenery.


Sawyer Glacier.

The ship made a detour to see this great sight. The approach to this glacier was an incredible trip through the Tracy Arm Fjord, a narrow valley of water, leading us about 30 miles in.


Iceburgs everywhere. Check out the beautiful color of the ice!

Note the birds on the ice, which give some amount of perspective to just how large this chunk of ice actually is.


Brrr... it's chilly up in Alaska!


The White Pass & Yukon Route

On our last port of call, Skagway, we took a train up the route built years ago during the gold rush era. Quite a view, and this one photo only shows the train and a most simple idea of the scenery. The mountain views were great, as were the valleys.


Very important! We also found Starbucks coffee in Skagway!

It wasn't a Starbucks literally, but they served the coffee and made most of the same drinks. Interestingly, there is no Starbucks anywhere in the ports of call we visited, except one we saw in Juneau while on a bus to another glacier.


The Chocoholic Buffet!

On the second to last sailing day, one of the dining rooms featured a chocolate buffet at 10:30pm. Chocolate statues and arrangements abounded, and much overly sweet food. In the end, we only ate a very small amount, although other passengers had heaping plates. No wonder they say people gain seven to ten pounds on a cruise.


Having fun!

On the trip back to Vancouver from the last stop, everyone is having a good time, relaxing, playing games, and just enjoying their last few hours and days before the cruise ends. We went outside for some photos of another cruise ship and this one of us two.


Our ship, the Norwegian Sun.

That's it for now! If we have time, we would like to do a follow-up post or two about a few specific areas, so watch for those coming up in the next while. For now, we are back and look forward to seeing those of you who live in our area and telling you more in person.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Shrimp Feast Begins!

The day has arrived, after months of anticipation! We are off on an Alaskan Cruise for the next seven days. We plan to eat lots of tasty food, especially whatever shrimp and prawns we can get our hands on.

We will try to post photos if we can, but if not, the full report will be posted when we return.

Bon Voyage to us! See you all in a week!

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Mid-July Update

Summer is moving swiftly along, and a lot is happening. We haven't had time for much blogging and it is unlikely to get any better for a while.

Last weekend we attended the wedding and reception of Matt and Ramona. Had a great time, and got to spend some time with the relatives. Sorry, no photos! There are hundreds on Facebook if you are friends with the right people.

Charlotte is walking fairly well now, just a little wobbly. Check out this video to see how well she's doing.


And again, eating (and sharing) a Dairy Queen icecream.


Last but not least, Natasha and I are going on an Alaskan Cruise next week. Charlotte is staying with my parents, so everyone's going to be having a great time! Watch for a big update post when we get back, as we will have limited internet access while we are away (although we will see what we can do).

Hope you're all having a great summer!

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Charlotte's Lil Entree

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

June 2009 Slideshow

We know you've been anxiously awaiting our June photos, so we have them out a bit earlier than usual this month! There's a lot of great photos again, so click here to get started!

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Canada Day, 2009

For Canada Day this year, we took a family trip to our favorite park in Coquitlam. It just so happens that the new Golden Ears Bridge is open, and is free to cross until July 16th. It's a very nice bridge and a pleasure to drive. I really like the new look and hope they build all of the new bridges the same way around here.


The Golden Ears Bridge

In Coquitlam, we did a bit of shopping and had lunch at the mall, then carried on to the nearby park for some walking and relaxing on a blanket in the shade of a big tree.


Charlotte with her sun hat!


Andrew & Natasha, enjoying the holiday.

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