Getting away is surely a luxury in this world, and one that should be thoroughly revered & enjoyed. Growing up, my family had not the means for such things as air travel, and despite this I can still recall as vividly as yesterday the many exciting road trips we took as kids, and think to how they must have saved my parents from going crazy at home with the four of us rambunctious island ragamuffins. Continue reading →
Well it’s true what they say, the time does go fast.
It’s hard to believe it is now September, with August behind us and all that it brought. Just a month ago we were putting the finishing touches on our packed luggage…
But with September comes so many good things: back to school, back to work, and back to working on this little blog and all it encompasses I hope you’ll all stick around to see what we’ve got up our sleeves!
While we get back to normal life, it’s my pleasure to share in my next three posts a few tidbits from our time in France – starting with a few things that made a big trip not only more affordable, but really, that much better.
Travel is a real luxury, and as you all know it can sure get costly. I hope you’ll enjoy this little round-up of 5 ways we traveled well with (just a little) less.
The mere sense of living is joy enough.
~ Emily Dickinson
Our favorite statue in the city just up the street from ‘home’.
1. Shack Up
And no, I don’t mean run away with a french man on a motorcycle!
As tempting as that might be …but really, I am referring to accommodation, as anyone knows that after flights, the place where you lay your head is likely to be your biggest expense, particularly on a longer trip.
And really, fancy hotels aside (which are sweet if you’ve got the budget) – just how much time will you be spending in said place of sleep?
I referenced thequaint french apartmentwe took in Paris, and it was just that: small, old, perfectly lovely, and right in the heart of where we wanted to be (for those of you interested we stayed in the Marais district).
After all, this is how the vast majority of people live in big cities like this, so it was fun, and not to mention for the four of us, (just a little) less hit on the budget & a whole lot more authentic.
Unlocking the door to the courtyard after another big day.
Everything you can imagine is real.
~ Pablo Picasso
We did just fine cozied up in our tiny kitchen, enjoying simple foods made with basics (my next post).
This was the start of the food journey that has not only affirmed my approach to food more than ever before, but forever reminded me just how simple foods made with quality ingredients are best, and how important it is to enjoy each and every bite.
After all, that is precisely what the people do in France. And it certainly shows!
Our go-to salad for three whole weeks it seems!
2. Eat In
Part of the fun of having a real place to shack up in is the chance to live like any other person might in that part of the world (at least for me it was and I suspect this would be the case for many of you too!). Cooking in a strange (tiny) kitchen is an adventure, one I was up for, and one we had a blast with.
It was a beautiful thing – heck – I was cooking dinner in Paris! What a sheer delight it was, and one I took with gratitude and pleasure.
I mentioned the produce market that set up literally at the steps to our door twice in the time we were there. I bought melons, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, nectarines, apples & berries. They were all pretty amazing, yes.
The block we stayed on had a store that stocked every fine oil, wine, preserve & jelly you could want, and the boulangerie on our block made just the right baguettes and chocolate croissants for the girls, who enjoyed them daily.
It was good living, as we say.
Not like the one in Provence, but hey – pretty darned good!
Eating in saved us tons of money, and it also meant that the three of us vegetarian girls weren’t struggling with menus (and our French) every night. It also meant we ate like royalty & had plenty of time & money left to hit the streets for some quality sight-seeing, and maybe an ice cream and a night cap (or two).
Of course, we ate dinners out too, andwe enjoyed it (just a little) more when we did.
Less really was more here, and it went this way through our entire trip.
The best part? Reserving the majority of our sitting time for chilling at our favorite cafes.
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
~ Dr. Seuss
Cafe life in France, and in Paris especially, is just about the funnest thing you’ll ever experience, as no one is ever in a rush.
The people watching is just about the best in the world, not to mention the goodies you are likely to enjoy. A few days in I gave up my afternoon coffee and switched it to white wine or beer.
And then we simply sat. And watched. And drank. And talked.
Until it was time to be on our way.
3. Set out on Foot
A big city like Paris is (obviously) more than well set up for tourists, and they are pros at handling all those visitors.
There are tour buses, stacked double-deckers, boats, bike tours, and of course, the metro is superb. But nothing is like seeing the city on foot both for your waistline and your wallet.
We walked for hours & hours each day, which many of you know is a wonderful way to get fresh air, exercise, and views that you just don’t get from a tourist bus, or underground on the metro.
Plus, how will you see that top in the window or find that off-the-beaten-track patisserie with the best pastry you ate the whole trip? That gorgeous old cathedral you stumbled on that time you got lost?
Nothing says adventure like traipsing around a city with just your bag, a camera, good company and a good stylish pair of comfortablish shoes.
More on shoes in an upcoming post
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr
4. Pack Coffee/Carry Water
Depending on your preference for coffee, this might not apply, but I was glad to have brought along a few bags of ground coffee from home to make French Presses while I greeted the day and acclimatized.
The kids were often tired (especially at the start of the trip), and given my (fairly unreasonable) requirement for caffeine early in the day, I got amped at home before leaving the house.
I’d done quite a bit of research on some coffee places I wanted to hit – places that are doing quality coffee like we are lucky to enjoy at home. My first try yielded a closed sign (Telescope seemed to be closed for the month) and the others were just too out-of-the-way and not convenient to drag the whole brood to.
For a full list of great spots to hit, check out this post on Alice Gao’s beautiful blog here. Alas, maybe next time.
Besides, I see plenty of snazzy coffee shops here (it’s my job), and I realized that day that I didn’t need to travel to Paris to see them there too.
So the home coffee was a major lifesaver, not to mention an easy way to avoid the Oranginas and other goodies you buy every time you sit your kids at a table (cause you know they can’t sit there with nothing).
But believe me, they got plenty of Oranginas. In fact, I am pretty sure we spent more on those drinks then most anything the whole trip. But more on that in another post too
And bring water wherever you go! All that walking will make you tired, and many places might leave you high and dry (read: thirsty) and succumbing to overpriced drinks you otherwise wouldn’t need.
5. Buy a Museum Pass
Okay. So really. This one made me very, very, happy.
Mu husband deserves the credit here, and this action turned out to be genius.
And not strictly for financial reasons. In fact, all in, we figured that by the end of our week in Paris, we broke even on the cost of this. The real savings, however, turned out to be of the more precious kind.
This thing saved us precious and irreplaceable time. No line ups!
Visiting Paris in August means the height of tourist season there – in fact – there were (what felt like) more tourists than locals, and given the high rate of shop closures for ‘Vacances’, I’d say this was correct.
We bought a one week pass that got us into any museum, sans line-up. A sweet deal considering we packed a good ‘sight a day’ into the itinerary. And did I mention the time savings? Brilliant.
But this is my husband we are talking about. I married him for a reason, or two
On our ‘must-see’ cultural list was: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Les Invalides, Versailles, The Pompidou Centre, and of course, the Eiffel Tower (which we did not go up as one of the lifts was broken) – there are quite a few more amazing sights to see, but traveling with a young one allows only so much, and these kids were stimulated to the max.
Truthfully, they were amazing. As was my husband for buying this pass. Brilliance.
Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Commitment is a line you must cross….it is the difference between dreaming and doing.
~ Bernie Fuchs
Looking back, it seems crazy that all that is behind us now. Time really flies.
True to one of my fave Dr. Seuss quotes, I’ve got to tell you that I’m pretty darned glad we did that, and my smiles feel pretty darned wide.
I’ve since returned home to enjoy the blessings we enjoy here, such as goodgreat regional food, clean tasty water, and truly great friends.
Yes, this is where I give a shout out to all of you – whether you wrote me a text to read when I landed, a thoughtful & genuine blog comment, an email, FB message, or straight up picked up the phone and called (you know who you are), you all made coming home that much sweeter, and I have big love for each and every one of you!
Thank you all for being here with me!
Looking forward to all that is to come – and next I’ll get to those top foods – I promise
Got any tips to add to this from your travels?
If you could travel anywhere tomorrow where would it be?
I’d love to add any wisdom from all you fine readers out there – and let us know your thoughts and whatever might be on your travel wish list!
Take rest. A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
Here we are! A long way from home, here in Paris, enjoying what we knew would be a fabulous time away together as a family.
I mentioned in my last post about our quaint French apartment (read: tiny), and it has been the perfect place to lay our heads each night after the massive days we’ve had soaking it all in (it will be absorbing for months to come too).
We’re having a ball, and as you can well imagine, the photos are piling up faster than I can ask (politely in English) for another glass of white wine.
With that, dear IPOM readers, I figure pictures can do the noble work of talking here, as we’ve got another 2 incredible days in the city before we head south to the country.
And it all starts with a good cup of coffee (from home).
Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.
~ Margaret Fuller
I am thrilled to report that after the jet lag, and most importantly the perspective shift, life here is actually becoming beautifully relaxed.
Instead of afternoon coffee, I have a glass of wine, and in place of my daily run, we walk all day long until dark. Dinners are simple (both out and in), breakfast is had in before we head out, and the family feels closer than ever before.
This part of town is amazing, and we’ve got a produce market twice weekly just outside our door. The produce is almost as incredible as the bread & cheese, and cooking here in this kitchen has been a blast.
A place for everything, everything in its place.
~ Benjamin Franklin
Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.
~ John De Paola
From the lover’s bridge (Pont Des Arts) to Notre Dame to the classical beauty that is the Luxembourg Gardens, we’ve covered pretty much everything we set out to do so far.
True to the plan, we hit one (or in some cases two) major sight see a day, which is plenty considering we are traveling with an eight year old. Notre Dame, Pompidou Center, Luxembourg Gardens, Versailles, The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower were tops on our list.
We’ve shopped (just a little, especially on account of many shop owners closing shop completely for the entire month of August), walked (a whole lot), and have truly lucked out with the weather (which has has been beyond spectacular).
I hope you’ll enjoy (just a little) of where we’ve been so far.
How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.
~ Spanish Proverb
Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.
~ Andre Gide
As is inevitable, I arrived on this holiday knowing nothing but my current perspective at the time. Loaded with responsibility, and driven by projects, it is immensely difficult at the time to truly imagine letting go.
But it happens, because it has to. And it feels so good, and is completely necessary in every way. I am so very fortunate and blessed to have this time to enjoy with my loved ones in quite possibly my favorite place in the whole world.
On another note, you will now see at the bottom that I am testing out the WordAds program with WordPress. I’m fairly particular about the esthetics on this blog, but if there is a way to generate revenue for Not So Fast, I thought it was worth a try, so please note that all proceeds from any advertising done (now or in the future) will go directly towards charity and we’ll see how it goes!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and on anything you see in this post that you fancy. Also, with so many photos, I’d love to hear what you want to see as we wind up the first leg of this trip in the next day or so! As you can also imagine, I’ll be somewhat absent in my blog reading and commenting this month – rest assured I’ll be back.
As for us, it’s Sunday, and the shops are closed. We plan to hit the Arc De Triomphe before hitting the banks of the river for ice cream and a stroll. I love that they close the shops here for a day, I think these people might just be on to something good
Sam James Coffee Bar on Harbord. A seriously ‘Less is More’ aesthetic and killer coffee.
Travel is always an adventure, right?
While it may have been work travel, it’s still pretty sweet to get out and enjoy a new city when the opportunity presents itself, especially when it’s a gem like Toronto.
I grew up visiting family in this city (I have always been a West Coast girl) and have many fond memories of it.
Toronto is where I got my ears pierced (behind my parents backs), where I first rode public transit on my own, and where the many colorful stories of my immediate family history originated (of which there are so, so many).
Turns out it’s still a pretty cool place. It may not have the hills, the ocean, and the ozonated air like home does (how many great cities actually do?), but it’s got its charms.
Sam James sidewalk.
Having visited a lot of coffee shops in my life (what can I say – it’s my job!), Toronto has a little something special going on as far as the local coffee scene.
Add to that the bustling, gritty charm of Kensington Market, the gorgeous grounds of the University of Toronto, and the many great restaurants that pop up out of no where, and downtown is not a bad place to traipse around.
Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.
~Frederick B. Wilcox
Sitting pretty at Kensington Market.
IPOM is certainly not a travel blog, but it is a place to celebrate the little things, and traveling is a bit of treat (IMO), whether work related or not (unless it isn’t).
Here are just a few of the moments I snuck in between more serious tasks.
Thanks for joining me, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
As always, I am a total nerd for market style food shots. Lettuce and live herbs outside the convenience store on College Street? Why not?
If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.
The same goes for these apples, proving there is always a healthy alternative within reach in big cities.
It’s not Whole Foods, but it might just be as good (or maybe better).
A stroll through Kensington yielded a visit to a very inspiring and beautiful store called Good Egg.
I could have spent a week in there looking at food, cooking, and agriculture (the list goes on) books, drooling over their refined selection of kitchen stuff, and generally trying to memorize everything about it so I could open my own here at home. I am always dreaming.
Listen to the color of your dreams.
~ The Beatles
Seriously. I was so, totally in love.
I’ve said before that grocery stores are my happy place.
Well, I’d like to take that a step further and say that outdoor vegetable markets are my ultra happy place!
Baskets of gorgeous, bright fruits and vegetables are always a feast for the eyes and this stall at Kensington Market was no exception.
My husband thinks I am downright nuts on account of this (always has). I maintain that’s just a part of my charm.
Cruising the University (cutting through from Yorkville to Little Italy) – I got a nice hit of charm from the gorgeous buildings and green everywhere. All these years I’d never seen this.
It was gorgeous, and a breath of fresh air in the middle of town.
Artisans are everywhere in this city, from behind the espresso machine, to behind the roaster, to behind the glass windows of the local flower shop.
I am a sucker for roses, especially this antique pink. This lovely arrangement stopped my breath at a little shop called Jaiden’s Petals on Ossington, I loved the sparse interior and the taste of the flower selection and merchandising in there.
Just looking at the seats made me happy. Imagine once I sat down
We also visited Te Aro, a new roaster from New Zealand doing superb things with coffee here in Canada.
I was so inspired there I bought myself a Chemex coffee maker and risked the trip home in my luggage (not that I couldn’t have picked one up here at home). It totally made it unscathed – and I am now on the hunt for the right filter (thinking of the Coava cone) and a new grinder (considering a hand grinder for this).
Visiting the Junction, we headed to Crema Coffee, and a stop at a little shop getting a tremendous amount of buzz from locals and folks here at home – Mjolk - I’ll let you discover them here – is a pretty amazing store.
Honestly, I wasn’t feeling rich enough to afford anything in there (and if I could have would not have risked trying to get it home unbroken), but it’s worth checking out if you are at all interested. These guys have a totally cool blog too, that is super styley and worth a look at if you are inclined!
Of course looking at these gorgeous wooden cups now, I am kind of wishing I brought one home after all. At least they have an online store!
The street art is pretty prevalent, and I love the bright vibes and loose feel to this. Kinda makes you want to dance in the streets a little!
Dance is the hidden language of the soul.
- Martha Graham
Me and my buddy dressed identically.
Imagine us looking each other up and down at 8 in the morning. Ridiculous.
There were a lot of super fun highlights. Great dinners with great company at Delux and Gusto, and proof that I am not the only vegetable nerd around that loves a good raw kale salad and shaved brussels sprouts with vinaigrette.
My fave moment of all?
Training for Paris, of course!
Returning home has been fabulous, and the weekend was spent enjoying the pleasures and comforts of home, complete with plenty of time in the kitchen
On that note – I’m going to leave you with an invitation to a little party coming up!
Annie over at an unrefined vegan has completely blown me away by arranging a blogging feast for this coming Saturday, May 12th.
Many of you are attending, but for those who wish to join us for the feast, there will be 60 bloggers taking part with 60 vegan dishes prepared just for the party – not all of the bloggers are strict vegans (including yours truly) but the deal is the dish for this little shindig has to be.
So watch for it! I am looking forward to it and am super excited to see what everyone has in store (and I am pretty excited to share mine!).
Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?
~ Frank Scully
So thanks to Annie for her amazing effort in putting this all together, and to all the blogging buds far and wide taking part!
Here’s wishing you alla super fab Monday!
Welcome to all the new IPOM readers this week, I am so happy to have you here, and I hope you’ll join us in the conversation too!
Are you a potluck fan?
What’s your favorite potluck dish?
Anyone out there from Toronto (I know a few of you are!)
Anyone make the kale salad over the weekend?
Let us know how you all are doing!
Your comments are always welcome here with open arms.
You know it’s a good life when you’ve got great neighbors. Let’s hear it for great friends and neighbors, shall we?
When it comes to our hood, we’ve lucked out to the max, as was evidenced by the large bushel of blushingly gorgeous rhubarb that was harvested across the lane and delivered to my back deck this past week (thanks Brian!).
But before we dive into this gorgeous recipe, I’ve got to say a very special thank you to another kind of friend.
Feel free to pay her a visit to see what was up with this salad I enjoyed this past week. It’s a goodie!
Thanks so much to Sarah for the wonderfully kind invite – and welcome to any Diva readers who may be visiting IPOM for the 1st time!
“Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars”
― Serbian proverb
This rhubarb gifting came to me just as I had picked up a magazine dedicated to spring recipes – it’s easy to stumble upon delightful ways to use asparagus, rhubarb, nettles, and the many other wonderful spring foods that come at this time of year here in Canada.
I made a few alterations, based on what I had on hand, and went straight to work – reserving the remaining rhubarb to stew and use later (I grew up eating it with plain yoghurt for dessert).
The result was a beautiful, date square like dessert, with a bright gooey filling and gorgeous light texture.
All over town now, there are shoots of rhubarb plants exploding in backyard gardens everywhere.
I’ve never made space to plant it in my small backyard garden, and I figure as long as Brian’s across the lane I won’t need to
I used real butter in this version as the recipe called for, but I would be delighted to see it veganized with coconut butter too.
There is no other dairy in the recipe at all, so making this adjustment would be easy!
Less far away fruit desserts means easy ways to eat local. Less tough to find ingredients means using what’s on hand, so you can get to work as soon as harvest is done. Less heavily sweet and cakey desserts means savoring without filling up, so you can still feel the pleasure long after you are done.
More rhubarb means more fresh, lively flavor. More local food means less carbon, and less cost to the planet and your pocketbook. More neighborly ways means stronger community, and more yummy desserts means inviting them over is easy.
Heat oven to 350 degrees and get a 9 inch square cake pan ready (no need to oil it).
In a large saucepan, combine the first 5 ingredients – rhubarb, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and flour – and bring to a boil with the lid on. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, partially covered until the mixture is reduced to 1 3/4 cups or so – about 25-30 minutes. Make sure to stir regularly to keep the mixture from burning at the bottom.
Once cooked and reduced, turn the heat off and allow to cool for a few minutes, about 10 – 15 minutes or so.
While the rhubarb cooks, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. With fingers or a pastry cutter, blend in the butter (I always use my hands for this – nature’s tools – but that’s just me!).
Press 2/3 of the mixture into the cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 2 minutes. remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before adding the rhubarb mixture.
Add the cooled rhubarb mixture to the pan and spread until it is even.
Next, add the chopped almonds to the remaining crumble mixture, and gently press together into small clumps. Sprinkle the mixture over the filling and distribute evenly.
Bake at 350 until the crumble is golden, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares.
“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”
~ Bob Marley
Cut the cold butter into the bowl with a knife. Get ready to mix it all together.
A person’s a person, no matter how small.
~ Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who
Crumble it all up until the mixture is well-integrated – making sure there are no large chunks of butter or sugar left straggling around in there.
I get in there like a kid in the dirt. I don’t like to wear gloves to garden either, do you?
Press the 2/3 of the mixture into the pan as tightly as you can. This will be the base for this wonderful yummy filling!
I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.
― Helen Keller
Let this mixture cool before adding it to the base – about 15 minutes or so.
Try not to eat too much of it as it does this (but do be sure to eat a little).
You never fail until you stop trying.
~ Albert Einstein
Any almonds will do for this, sliced, slivered, even chopped whole almonds if that is what’s on hand.
Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
~ Mahatma Gandhi
The result, a beautiful pan of (neighborly) spring goodness. Worthy of stopping to enjoy with friends, neighbors and family.
Serve these with or without vanilla ice cream, and give some to your neighbors (or not).
These guys will keep in a container or tin at room temperature – I am sure they would make a rather smashing breakfast served alongside some cashew cream or thick greek yoghurt.
How’s that for versatility?
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.
I can’t wait for the next harvest from across the lane! Truthfully, Brian has got a pretty sweet garden and so I just might head over there with these bars awfully soon.
They just might be good enough to keep him delivering more of his earthly goodies
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
~ John Lennon
I hope each and every one of you had a fabulous weekend – next up, I’ll share with you a kick ass salad recipe inspired this week by a gift from another great friend of mine!
It features a favorite of mine that I haven’t posted about for a while…yep….it’s kale!
So stay tuned it’s that good.
Are you gearing up to use rhubarb this spring or better yet, do you grow it?
What is your favorite rhubarb or spring dessert recipe?
I hope you enjoy these as much as we did – and thanks again for reading and for your comments! I had a lot of fun with the last post and got more than a few awesome ideas for not only making but seasoning popcorn. Thank you!
Wishing you all a truly fabulous week – PS – I am traveling again (this time to the TDOT aka Toronto) so I might be spotty with my comments – I’ll be back the end of the week though!
Welcome! What is In Pursuit Of More? The blog about living with (just a little) less. By going without, we can gain - by giving to those who have less. Want to make a change in your eating habits for the better? Imagine how you can turn that into something positive for those who would otherwise go hungry. Go without so others don't have to. That's living with (just a little) less.