Monday, August 31, 2009

taco pizza

after an amazing taco pizza at the joint in victoria i decided i had to try to recreate it at home. i was impressed with the results. i made a thin pizza crust and put a layer of homemade vegan queso on top. i mixed some dried tvp with boiling water and taco seasoning and waited for it to rehydrate so i could put it on top of the queso. then i chopped up a tomato and sprinkled it on top and cooked the pizza for 15 minutes. after it came out of the oven i added the lettuce. i thought about adding some vegan sour cream but i forgot to buy it. it was really good though. definitely be making this again.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009


we came home to spring in our garden (technically it's not spring for a few more days but nature doesn't go by our rules)

the yellow flowers where these buds 2 months ago
the nectarine tree is covered in buds and a lot of them have already opened into flowers:
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sooo much good food

i loved trying all the different vegan options everywhere we went on our trip. in vancouver, our friends took us to a place we'd never tried called the foundation. it was all vegetarian and very vegan friendly. the service is always a bit slow but the food was soooooo tasty. i think we went 3 times during our trip. portland had LOTS of options for vegans. before we left australia i was looking at happy cow for ideas and printed of an entire page of purely vegan restaurants. the first full day we were there we wanted mexican for lunch. we decided to try to food carts that are in the downtown area. we found a mexican one and just asked for vegetarian burritos with no cheese or sour cream. the guy replied with his thick spanish accent"so you want to vegan burritos?"-- he knew exactly what we were going for! we got to go to hungry tiger too which has its own vegan menu in addition to the meat menu. the nachos even had really good melt-y vegan "cheese" on them! we went to a nice cafe on hawthorne (don't remember the name) where we just went in for coffee but they had so many vegan options on their menu that we ended up eating too (unfortunately our first choice, the vegan quesadilla, wasn't available because they'd run out of vegan cheese but we had a really nice tofu scramble instead). the picture above is zac in front on "zach's shack" hot dogs. this was the only thing we could find open to eat at 2 am (we tried 3 different mexican places). this hot dog place/bar was great because any of their 8 or 10 dogs on the menu could be done veggie. portland also has it's own "vegan mini mall" with food fight vegan grocery (i think we bought/ate more than a healthy amount of vegan jerky from there), herbivore clothing, a tattoo place (with vegan inks) and a bakery. right around the corner is red and black cafe which is a vegan, worker owned and run cafe. we also went to voodoo donoughts a couple times to get a sugar fix (vegan bear claw). portland is a great city for vegans.
when i got to victoria (i went a day before zac so i could try to organize more of my things to bring to australia) my mom took me to planet organic to pick up some random foods that weren't at the supermarket (like a soy based cheese that didn't have casein or other dairy bits in it). i ended up getting a nacho cheese that was SOOOOO good (we used it on quesadillas while we were camping and made a massive platter of nachos at my mom's on nite. we went to dinner at green cuisine (pay by weight vegan food). zac also had to go back there every time we were downtown so he could get a "not-naniamo bar" to snack on. we also went to hernandez (little mexican place recommended by sarah kramer. we had it for the first time on our last trip up to cananda and now we're hooked). we also HAD to try the joint after sarah kramer talked about that place too. i wish we'd gone to it sooner than on our last day cuz they have sooooo much good stuff and they can veganize any of their pizzas, calzones and quesadillas. they use some of the fake meat stuff and they make their own vegan cheese. we had a vegan-ized taco pizza--- sooo good! we also finally tried rebar which seems to be victoria's most well known vegetarian friendly restaurant. it was good but i liked some of the other places better.
we also had some good home cooked meals too. the evening we arrived in portland our friend's mom (who had been visiting from the east coast and was getting back on a plane in a couple hours) made us a nice pasta dinner with some vegan saussage in it. my mom made some really nice vegetable soup using her juicer to make a thick, tasty stock. we ate well (fairly healthy and LOTS of food) through our whole trip.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009


i took a LOT of photos during our 3 weeks overseas. i narrowed them down to a large selection and put them on facebook. here are a few of them and some stories of our trip (i've divided it into a few posts).

the second night we were in vancouver was the celebration of light (fireworks display) finale so we went to see that with a friend

the burrard street bridge after the fireworks (a bit glow-y from the smoke haze in the light): a friend of ours and his australian wife (he came down to oz to visit us/see the country, found a melbounre girl, married her a year ago and they live in vancouver) had some kind of tour passes that get them and 1 guest free entry to a lot of tourist-y things. they hired a share car for an afternoon and took us up grouse mountain and capilano suspension bridge.

there are grizzlies on top of grouse. the 2 bears were taken to live in a large enclosure when they were orphaned (in 2 seperate incidents) as cubs. i think that was about 6 years ago because we saw them when they were cubs when we did a hike up the grouse grind (the tour pass got us in the gondola for free)

this young bird was practicing for the bird show they do on grouse: we also took the free ski lift up to the very top from the main tourist-y area (the second mountain i've ridden a chair lift on in the non-ski season this year-- did it at buller during atp. seems like a weird thing to do. especially twice in 8 months)

the view coming down the gondola (it was a bit hazy from the heat):

the share car had to be back not long after we got down from grouse but we did make a quick stop to the capilano suspension bridge, ran across the bridge and through the treetops walk and gift shop and stopped only momentarily to have our photo taken with this bear (we managed to get the share car back only 3 minutes late and no one was waiting):

english bay as seen from the burrard street bridge (we walked that bridge several times):

the cool bike lane on the burrard street bridge:

its a bit hard to tell from the photo but to the left of the yellow line is a raised sidewalk/footpath. on the right is a road level bike lane blocked from traffic lanes by cement barriers. only problem is the start of the bridge is a bit dodgy for bikes not to get hit by cars merging onto the bridge from a side street.

we were also in vancouver for the pride festival. we decided to watch the parade. my favourite bit (the dog has doggles on his head!!!!):

we also got to go to under the volcano festival. a good day of music and relaxing. it's at this great park on the beach in north vancouver. the day started out a bit rainy but cleared up a bit and was nice (not too hot or sunny to be out all day but not cold either). the view from the beach:

we went to portland for a few days to see a friend (i LOVE portland). i didn't get many photos (and most of the photos i took were of our friend's roommate's dog tanner-- he was sooooo cute!). i did get this one. it's not really funny in america, only australia.

our one incident we had happen in vancouver (there's always one) was at our favourite hostel. we love this place cuz we can get a private room with a double bed and its right downtown (although right on the edge of the seediest area of the poorest suburb in canada) and it's got a great pub downstairs from the hostel rooms. the private rooms are all on the second floor with windows overlooking this courtyard area that's only a couple meters or so across (and no doors to actually get into the courtyard at ground level). i woke up one nite to the sound of a lock being played with and then a creaking noise like our door wasn't shut properly and was just creaking slightly in a breeze. i thought that seemed a bit weird (cuz i'd seen zac shut and lock the door) so i tapped zac and said "i think our door is open". when he responed with "what?" we saw a silohette of a person diving under our bed!!!!! zac jumped up and grabbed his tough plasic nalgene water bottle (he's still convinced he could have done some damage with that) and i jumped over to the light and flicked it on. a guy crawled out from under our bed in his underwear! zac kept asking the guy what he was doing and the guy just kept repeating "just creepin around man, just creepin' around." our wallets and passports were sitting up on the desk with some of our other stuff but he hadn't touched it (where was he gonna put anything he took anyway). he crawled over to the window, hopped out and onto a pipe that went across the courtyard. he then jumped to the women's bathroom window (which was kind of a big leap) and went out through there. zac went down to the desk and got told the staff on duty (which unfortunately the night shift is done by this guy that doesn't seem to speak or understand english very well at all and is rude on top of that). he came up and took a quick look at our room and our the window (the guy had long gone) and then told us to go to sleep. the hostel is pretty secure and you need a key card to get to the stairwell to the rooms and then another to get into your floor's hallway and a key for your room. non-hostel guests are not supposed to be brought into the hostel so we were pretty sure he was staying there and had a room he'd taken his clothes off in. the next morning zac went down to the desk and the woman there asked zac right away if he was shook up about the last night. she said they'd looked at the security footage and saw him go into the women's bathroom and 15 minutes later come out again. when he came down in the morning they told him he was evicted (he only had 1 more night to go but he actually asked if he could have his money back for that next nite!!!). he claimed he was drunk and trying to scare a friend but got the wrong room. we're pretty sure he wasn't actually trying to take anything or do anything to us but you can't just crawl into someone's room!!! the hostel got barbed wire put over the pipe that day and i think bars on the window too but we didn't want to stay there anymore so they refunded our money, gave us extra coffee vouchers and some vouchers for the bar. fortunately our friends micah and stephanie live close by and were willing to have us stay for a few more nights with them then we'd originally planned (we were only going to stay with them the last 2 nights since they have a fairly small 1 bedroom apartment). i'm a bit sad that hostel has been ruined for me cuz that was the only hostel i ever really liked.


we spent a week in victoria (including 2 days camping with my brother and his girlfriend). i took a LOT of pictures on the ferry ride to and from the island.

mount baker from the swartz bay ferry terminal before going back to vancouver (that was the first day we saw baker, it had been hidden in haze every time we were places we should be able to see it until that point):

approaching tsawwassen ferry terminal (and all the mountains just behind vancouver):

passing another ferry (one of the newer ferries):

my mom took us to goldstream for a walk. unfortunately we got caught (unprepared) in a heavy rain shower (it only lasted about 10 minutes but we were wet). i wasn't able to get many picutres cuz of the rain but here's one of a stump growing a tree ontop of it: the harbour (one of many shots):

the legislative buildings and a totem:
this was just at the end of my mom's street. there are a few deer that live in the neighbourhood since the wooded area they lived in behind our house (and the neighbours' houses) has been mostly cut down and houses have been built):

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


while we were on the island we went camping for 2 nights with my brother, his girlfriend and his girlfriend's family dog "joey" (his first camping trip). my brother has been doing a fair bit of back country camping and hiking so he knew lots of good spots. we didn't want to have to bring a lot of gear from australia so we told him any area we can car camp would be good. the first night we went down some back country roads to a spot along the nitinat river. we found a spot just as it was starting to get to dusk. it ended up being a great spot.

there was a little dirt patch with no rocks where we pitched the tent and the river was only a few metres from the tents so all night long we listened to the sounds of the river running past us (and because of the large log behind us the sound echoed and made it sound like the river was surrounding us).

joey did very well but got scared after dark and would bark and go into a very fearful position when any of us left the light of the fire (especially to me and zac since he'd only met us hours earlier but he did it to my brother too).

the next day we headed down to fairy lake and camped at a campground. it was pretty warm but the lake was too cold for me or zac (or kristie) to go in, but shane went for a (quick) swim. joey was in most of the day until we forced him to stay out and dry off a bit.

the jeep all packed up (including the canadian flag my brother brought out to our wedding-- i guess this thing travels with him a lot):

joey at the lake:

shane took us up some logging roads to try to find bears. we went up some road he had seen bears on a month or so ago. we couldn't find any. we did see some bear poop (even some pretty fresh stuff) and found some bear tracks in some dried mud (which would have been from the last rain a couple days earlier).

the jeep pulled out off the logging road:

bear track:

zac looking for bears:

one of many patches of clear cut and some alpine flowers (fireweed?)
on the way home we stopped at botanical beach:
i think the camping trip was probably my highlight of our holiday. we may have to make that a regular thing on our trips to canada.

a few scenic shots

a few photos from our last few days.

kits beach:

a street leading down to kits beach (i just like that any northbound street we walked down-- and some streets leading east/west-- there were amazing mountians RIGHT THERE):

stanley park:

fireweed(?)-- i should play with the colour a bit more on this one because it's more of a bright pink than a purple pink in real life:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

the end

we made it home yesterday after 3 weeks in canada and the states. on the way up we had grumpy and rude flight attendants. on the melbourne-sydney flight when the guy next to me asked for salt for his sprite-- bit of a weird request but still...-- the flight attendant let out a loud laugh and then told the guy in a loud voice for a row or 2 away "we're an airplane, not a restaurant." before explaining they don't carry salt on non-meal flights. we didn't even get to sit together for the 13 hr sydney-LA flight because united is stupid and lets members chose seats from a seating chart at time of purchase. other people can call 24 hours before their flight and book seats. we didn't know this so when we got to the airport the seats available were 10 rows apart. LAX was horrible. everyone talks about how bad it is transferring through there but i didn't realize how bad it was. you go get your bags (with hundreds of other people arriving from international flights) then you go through customs (a LONG ling) then you go over to a transfer area where it's very disorganized and there's just random unsignaged (i think i just made that word up but it works) lineups and somebody just vaguely points to where your bags need to go so they make it on your next flight. then you go through security to get to your gate to another international flight. one of the security guys tried to make a joke with me about needing a new boarding pass because the perforation had torn off (i still had both parts). the joke didn't go over well since i'd just gone through 4 line ups, and was being herded around after not sleeping for about 20 hours.
coming back we go through u.s. customs before we even leave canada (in a nice quiet airport with green carpeting and first nations inspired artwork). we managed to find a really nice vegan burrito at LAX and then slept for most of the LA-sydney flight. the only annoying bit was sitting on the tarmac for 40 minutes in melboune(after landing 15 minutes early) cuz a plane at our gate had mechanical issues and there was no other free gate for us. it also took a while to get through customs-- as soon as we got off the plane they lined us up 30 or so at a time with our carry on against the wall behind us and they sent "noah" the sniffer dog (who seemed very puppy-ish and playful) up and down the line of people and our bags. then we had to go through a couple points of quarantine as well as customs. we were very happy to get out and go get wombat (who seems to have done really well this time at the kennel-- a different kennel than last time. she looks very healthy, clean and happy-- just very tired).
some shots from our vancouver-LA flight:

the tsawwassen ferry terminal from above:
richmond-delta area:


view from the tarmac:
our one picture from the sydney-melbourne flight (somewhere over the snowy mountains):

oh, and the other annoying thing that happened on the way back is as we were walking to the car i noticed my padlock missing from my suitcase. i just figured cheap (i think), small lock probably fell off somewhere along the way. when i opened my bag at home i discovered the cut lock sitting on top of my clothing along with a note from the TSA saying my bag had been chosen to be opened and inspected. because i had a lock on it "the officer may have been forced to break the locks on [my] bag. TSA sincerely regrets having to do this, however TSA is not liable for damage to [my] locks resulting from the necessary security precaution." if i had known they might cut my lock i probably wouldn't have bothered locking it but i didn't see and definitely wasn't told they would cut my lock to make sure my books and clothing weren't actually some dangerous or prohibited items.
i think next time we may fly thru taipei again (or maybe just do the direct melbourne-vancouver flight)