Last of the Road Trip posts over there! (long)


Why Drive to Tofino indeed?

As much as I love where we live, there are times that you just need a change of space and location.  For some reason on the Island that place has always been Tofino.  Maybe it’s the waves and all the dynamic motion but we go there at least once a year and always in the off season.  This year we lucked out and I got a super good deal to 2 nights at Cox Bay Beach Resort through #TravelZoo.  We always stay on Cox Bay.  I guess it’s because it’s wide open to the wild blue yonder.   Thus some pictures of our mini trip (2 nights and really 2 days).  It was SUNNY when we got there and there wasn’t enough wind to fly a kite.  Cooked our own dinner one night and had #Tacofino burritos the other night and had lunch at #WolfInTheFog.  Also drank WAAAAAYYYY too much #TofinoBrewery beer.  Yay for the Kelp Stout!







Local Food Market…..

Is my downfall.  Today I bought bread, bread and a pesto pinwheel bun….and pizza and chocolate….. As well as selling our boxed grape juice(which I was told were too big (5L), that they’d buy a 1 litre box… oh well you can’t please everyone), chicken, scallops and salmon.  Oh and a token amount of carrots and leeks.  Then came home and played outside for a while, made these interesting oatmeal breakfast cupcakes (I saw them on facebook this morn), though I may have lessened the nutritional value of them by putting a lot of chocolate chips into them.

I also made some butter chicken with our chicken thighs….. nice.  I was going to do it with breasts but thought rather than waste the breast might as well do it with some dark meat…. worked out pretty good.  Can’t wait to grow more chickens in the spring.


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Goat cheese, fig, carmelised onion and arugula pizza by Linda Gray from the Kosmic Kafeteria….mmmmmm

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I texted this photo to Ben… mean?  Yes! Gotta love Rebecca Spit!



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I think is the most hilarious picture of Ru-chan….  She’s been doing this face a lot!

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A Nice Visit

A la flying visit…. I got to see a friend from way back.  I haven’t seen her for a few years but we’ve known each other since we were 12 years old.  It was a nice to visit but the children were restless and we only got to stay for a little while before Miwa was laying on the bench seat and Ru-chan was off to explore what was behind the counter.  It being the second, it was also the traditional Oshougatsu (New Year) lunch with my parents.  They (mostly my dad) cooks up osechi ryori (traditional Japanese New Year’s food) and we have a few friends over and we eat!  It’s nice as we only get to eat it once a year.  The girls love it and dutifully eat their age in black beans (for diligence and good luck).

It’s actually been a pretty busy holiday.  We had our big family dinner on the 24th, to which Ben made it after being delayed in Calgary for a night.  We had dinner on Christmas at Q and A’s and slept in the Trillium there as we were headed to Powell River to see Ben’s 88 year old Grandma and various Aunties and Uncles and cousins on Boxing Day.  We came home on the 28th and another university era friend popped by on the 30th.  She won a Naked bike frame in a draw and went to see Sam to talk about what she wanted.  Then she joined all the Hard Core people on the New Year’s Eve ride around Quadra.  Haven’t heard yet but I think she was in the 100+ km group.  I on the other hand baked butter tarts and we put them out at the end of the driveway with a sign that said “Butter tarts for Bikers.”

With that we karaoked the New Year in and the girls nearly made midnight.  They both crashed at 1030.

Resolutions?  Always….

There is the ever popular: lose weight, though this year it’s more like get in better shape.  Starting to run again and getting back on the bike.  I’m going to try biking Miwa to gymnastics…. we’ll see how that goes.  I’ve done it once and it was not too bad.  The Chariot pulls along pretty well.  Also I hate being told I got fat whenever I go back to Japan (which we are doing in March).

There is also the:  Finish the house or at least have it not be in such a hovel state.  This means finishing the ceiling, painting, fixing drywall, putting windows in, replace our stupid roof (long story, the moral being tin is much better suited for steeper angled roofs), landscape our yard a bit. Also tidying inside the house and stop moving things around.

As well: try and be on everything in the vineyard and winery…. this never happens but I’ll go ahead and put it out.  This includes all vineyard work, garden work and winery tasks including getting bottles and labels and getting my blends done sooner rather than later. Sigh…. we’ll see.

I guess I should also put down, pay Visa.  This one is tough because we always seem to have to buy something for the winery (and it’s never cheap) and this never seems to go down even though I throw money at it.  (I may also have a wee bit of a internet shopping addiction…. what?!  I love Modcloth!)  That being said, stop shopping online.

Finally:  have more fun time, stop working on the farm and take at least a day to go somewhere as a family, hikes, rides, lunch whatever.  This always seems to fall by the wayside, but the girls are only young once so we had better cherish this time.

Ah well, here is to 2014…. I salute you!

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How to prune a vineyard….

with 2 small kids.

Step 1:  Give Daughter #1 to Nana  for some playtime or drive her to daycare.

Step 2: Give Daughter #2 to Obachan (grandma in Japanese) for a walk in the Chariot.

Step 3: Prune away madly before Obachan returns with Daughter #2.

Step 4: When Obachan returns and drops off Chariot and Sleeping Daughter rock her every once in a while if she stirs. Continue pruning madly.

Step 5: Once Daughter #2 wakes up from her nap, you’re done for the day.

Next day repeat.


Three cakes and a beer. (a rather wordy update with no pictures) you’ve been warned

Well, I have been a naughty blogger haven’t I.  We’ve been busy doing stuff and I haven’t been updating. The crush is finished and main ferment is done too.  We have to rig up heaters so I can start some malolactic as the wine is getting pretty cold.

We’ve been doing wood, yes late but at least we are doing it.  I’ve been plotting out our land shaping for the upcoming year with the new toy, also hemming and hawing about a couple of greenhouses I want to buy, Ben had his vasectomy about 3 weeks ago and was he ever a baby about it… well not really but he looked rough coming out of his appointment!

We did go to Vancouver and I hadn’t been to a city for so long, really not since Japan I think, I had forgotten the energy of one.  We had been to Victoria but we usually stay with friends so we miss out on the “city-ness” I guess.

In Vancouver we stayed right downtown in the Westin Grand which was located at Robson and Homer across from the library, so it was super convenient to food and sight seeing. We were there for 3 nights and it was fun.  The first day we headed out early which worked great for Ru-chan’s first nap, she slept all the way to the ferry in Nanaimo.  After we got off the ferry we headed to Coquitlam to visit J and M and their delightful daughter E. J was in the same engineering program as Ben and was also the reason he got the job at Catalyst in the first place.  We hadn’t seen her for a while so it was nice to visit them in their beautifully renovated home, which I failed to get a picture of.  E and Miwa hit it off like a house on fire and they disappeared into E’s playroom and we didn’t see them for probably a good hour.  It was pretty funny.

After we left them we headed downtown and checked in.  One benefit to Ben flying back and forth the Fort Mac is all the aeroplan miles.  They paid for our 3 nights in the hotel and 2 nights for my parents who were coming down a day later to visit friends and go to the Emperor’s Birthday Celebration put on by the Japanese Consulate. He wasn’t there it’s kind of like Victoria Day where we celebrate the Queen’s birthday.  Anyhow they got to go to a swanky party at another hotel downtown so we thought it would be nice for them to stay at a nice hotel downtown, it was also their 40th wedding anniversary.  However, that will come up later.

Miwa was super excited about staying in a hotel again.  Since this one was right downtown we headed back out, to just up the road to the Korean supermarket building and I had…. Japanese curry at Zak Zak and Ben and Miwa had ramen.  So funny, we get to the city and what do we do, go have Japanese food.  We did walk out to the London Drugs at Granville and Georgia  so that was fun just for the people vibe. The reason we ended up having Japanese food was because neither Ben or I could face sitting down in a restaurant with Miwa, we’d rather get take out and go back to the hotel room and eat.  Anyhow, as it was later than normal for us to eat, almost 630, Miwa was being silly and playing on the chairs at the take out place while we were waiting and she fell over crushing her finger between the chair and the floor.  She ended up with a black fingernail, and juice because the ladies working saw it happen and felt sorry for her.  Now, normally we don’t let Miwa have juice because she goes NUTS. It’s like we’re shooting her up intravenously with pure sugar, but she was pretty sad so she drank the entire bottle….. hmmmmmm, not so good.  By the time we got home after a stop at the liquor store (for our coping mechanism) and Beard Papa, a Japanese cream puff store for dessert, she was humming.  Thankfully she was fully contained in the hotel room.  The rooms at the Westin are all one bedroom suites with bathroom having 2 doors so it’s like a loop.  Miwa was this bundle of energy doing laps around and around stopping only briefly for her ramen and some water.  She finally crashed around 930 and Ben and I recovered by drinking wine (2009 Ravenswood Zin, ok)  and watching some Clone Wars (excellent especially on a big TV, not on our little 13” laptop screen). Ru-chan was good and slept as she should for which we were both grateful for.

The next morning, we ordered room service for breakfast because we couldn’t handle the thought of Miwa-wrangling in a restaurant and then after breakfast Ben and Miwa went to the pool.  Really, Miwa jumped in the pool and played a bit then hopped in the hot-tub.  And there she stayed.

After this lovely little interlude we were off again to visit our friend S and C who we met back in our first year of university at UBC.  We all lived in the same dormitory and had played together throughout our university careers.  We had lost touch after we all graduated from our respective programs and moved on with our lives but they had heard my letter being read on North by Northwest on CBC when I had randomly written in in the spring and had found our website and gotten in touch.  It was so great and unexpected that I  wrote back and luckily when we headed to the city we were able to get together with them for lunch.

They had gutted an old character house in the Commercial Drive area and completely renovated it.  Beautifully I might add.  I was silly and forgot to take pictures but wow!  Such a job well done.  We visited with them and their lovely children H and I. Miwa was a bit shy but eventually warmed up as H is only about half a year older than her.  I personally can’t believe that they were able to have kids, work jobs (he works for the government and she’s a doctor) and they renovated this house…. That is a lot to take on.  Anyhow, all results are beautiful and I really wish I had remembered to take pictures.

However, moving on, it turns out S’s brother is the head brewmaster for a new microbrewery, Parallel 49 not far from where C and S live, so we bundled up the children and walked to it.  It was down on Triumph Street where oddly enough we had looked at an apartment when we were buying one right after we had graduated from UBC and decided to stay in Vancouver. It was super fun and very different from winemaking.  Also they may be a microbrewery but they are about 1000 times bigger than we are, so it was fun to look at their filters and their bottling line and the tanks!

After a mini meltdown by Miwa who subsequently fell asleep and Ben had to carry her back up the hill in his arms (good thing he had been hitting the gym at work, is all I can say) we said good bye to C and S and the kids and headed to South Granville for ME:)

Well, and Ben.  We stopped at Anthropologie (which I love but so expensive) and West Elm (which I am rather ambivalent about but was curious) before going to Rangoli for take out Indian.  Rangoli is the take out arm of of Vij’s which has  got to be be both Ben and my favorite restaurant in Vancouver, but again,taking Miwa there may have been tempting the fates.  So off we went, back to our hotel room that had a little kitchenette to make our food and veg in front of the TV again.  Which we did, but to our dismay found that the dishwasher was really only for show and did not work.  However, there was also no dish washing soap so we just left the dishes in the dishwasher and I left a really big tip on our way out.

The next day we headed out to IKEA, my favorite, bright and early but also to meet my Ikea enabler Ferry Godmother A, who was going to haul our take home for us as we only have a Matrix and we wanted to buy the entire store…. For those who don’t know , A basically is like a personal shopping service to Ikea, for a fee you send her your list and give her your money and she goes all the way to the mainland, buys your stuff and brings it home for you!  So much cheaper than getting it shipped!

We had a pretty nice breakfast there (and so cheap!) and sat and had coffee while we waited for A (and L and U) to get there.  We plunked ourselves at a table by the children’s toys so Miwa could run around after she ate and we could sit and watch her.   We connected with A after breakfast and proceeded to shop. We were replacing our vanity with a dual sink vanity, so that was our mission.  After a few hours there and getting our stuff and A’s stuff into her van we headed to the Aquarium where we had a snack and watched belugas and sharks.  We then met my parents and my Auntie R.  who is a family friend from before I was born for the Stanley Park Bright Light minitrain ride. I have to admit I was skeptical but my mom really wanted to take Miwa on it, and you know what it was really fun for all.  There were really loud Christmas carols, a disco reindeer, lot’s of lights and a whole lot of excited kids!  After that we headed back to the hotel, where my parents checked in and we had a bit of a rest.  Then my parents went to their soiree and we walked to the Vancouver Christmas Market at the Queen E Plaza with Auntie R.  It’s basically a German themed market but there was also a carousel.  We got 3 free carousel ride tickets when we got in and we thought that each ticket was for each person so Ben and Miwa got into line.  Auntie R. and I had a nice visit and after Ben and Miwa got off they came to find us.  We got food and it ended up it was 1 ticket per ride so they went on 2 more rides before coming to eat.  During which time someone gave me 2 more tickets.  So after those rides when Ben thought he was done riding the carousel, someone commented on how much fun Miwa was having and gave him one more ticket…. Miwa was delighted:)  At least Auntie R. and I had a nice visit.

It was getting late so we said bye to Auntie R. and headed back to the hotel and started getting ready for bed.  My parents got back and phoned to see if they could kiss the girls goodnight.  My dad came up, they were staying in the same type of suite one floor below us, and told us that the hotel had left them 3 cakes and a beer in their room.  Ben and I both thought that was weird so went downstairs to investigate.  Well, I had told the front desk that it was my parents wedding anniversary because sometimes hotels do nice things for their guests for special occasions.  3 cakes and a beer ended up being 3 chocolate covered strawberries and a half bottle of champagne! So funny…..sometimes I worry about my dad.  After a good laugh with my mom at my dad’s expense we all went to bed.

The next morning we had breakfast with my parents before heading to the pool, then checking out.  Then came the real reason we went to Vancouver in the first place. We went to visit a place called Fresh Tap.  They keg wine which is what we are hoping to start to do with our wines for Tsa-Kwa-Luten and other restaurants we have.  Better than bag in a box and easier.  We are pretty excited about it because it has the potential of getting our wines into more restaurants for a reasonable price. After that visit, we headed out to Bosa grape to pick up a few supplies and then headed home.  Ben left then next day for work and I proceeded to put in that stupid vanity….

You know no one told me that Ikea faucets are non standard and I would require adapters to make them work.  4 days and 2 trips to the building supply and 1 trip to Home Depot in town where I was very bitchy to a poor sales guy and sheepishly apologised to afterwards because I thought he was being condescending but he was just trying to be helpful.  I finally got that sucker in.  There was a desperate phone call to my mom to come get Miwa before I lost my temper and smacked her (which I would never do but I was close to snapping) but it’s in and damn does it look nice.  And it’s a dual sink so it’ll be great when the girls get older.

During the week Ben was gone I’ve been getting Christmas presents together, which could have added to my stress as I’m trying to hand make quite a few things.  So the house was a mess, kids were trying and a stupid mink got 8 chickens one night then another the next night. The morning it got the one chicken, I looked in the coop and it was still in there.  I thought I had trapped it but somehow it got out and Griswold was too slow to get it, so I mink proofed the other 2 coops the best I could and so far so good.  I was sad because the chickens are just starting to lay again after a lengthy hiatus.  We’re still getting eggs as it was mostly older hens and 2 roosters that were killed…. Still so sad. Also the rats are back, there were at least 2 nesting in our ceiling but we are being diligent about our trap line so I think we’ve gotten 9 so far from all our buildings (our house, chicken coop, winery, my parents house and the battery shack).  The stupid things love to gnaw on our telephone wire too that passes through the battery shack on it’s way to our house. We’ve had to repair it a couple times, of course this time it was the last wire I repaired that was the problem.  Caught at least 2 in the battery shack so that’s good.

This week off we put up one more sheet of plywood on the ceiling, made sure the generator is still working, .fought off a cold and fever with strange hallucinations on Miwa’s part, went to a birthday party (adult not kid but for Miwa’s favorite uncle Q), got immunised (Ru-chan), got a deep freeze for Christmas from Ben’s parents and discovered a lot of food from the little freezer up at our house.  A big box of blueberries from Nature’s Way was hiding at the bottom of the freezer, and we still have some sockeye left!  The new freezer came with partitions so it’s way better.  I think all we need to buy now is fruit because we are set for meat and pesto (hooray, we still have some left) and the garden still has kale, beets, carrots and parsnips in it.  We also booked our vacation for February and somehow Val and Ken are coming along.  After that phone call I got off the phone and asked myself “What just happened, did Val just invite herself on our vacation?!”  Too funny, it should be fun though.  We’re going here🙂

I’ve also come to figure out what I want to do with my life so far, I think.  I guess I’ve been having a bit of an existential crises as I feel I used to have ambition and now not so much.  Maybe it’s my midlife crises but I’m not quite 40 yet and I have lot’s going on but i feel like i’m just existing rather than living.  It could also be sleep deprivation but really I don’t have that as both kids are pretty good sleepers. Maybe it’s just having young kids, I don’t know.  Anyhow, I’ve made a few decisions on what to do and am feeling better about doing that.

Now we are in Victoria visiting friends and going to the WIGA Christmas social and staying here.  It’s quite lovely, hopefully I’ll post and update with picture tomorrow. Oh yes and Nono, my sister comes home in 5 days, yay!  I miss her.  She also did this, 85th in this marathon!  So proud ( and a bit jealous).  You go girl:)