My name is Stephanie and I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I will be using this blog to share with you pictures and stories from my travels, both near and far. I’m hoping to do lots of travelling and exploring in 2018 so hopefully I do a better job with keeping up with this blog then I did with my food blog. I may occasionally post about other things but the majority will be travel related in some way. I hope you enjoy reading of my travels and if you have any suggestions on places to hike or travel too, please share with me. Happy travels!
Hiking season is here, yay! This Sunday I will be doing hike number 4 and summer just started. I stumbled across a group on Instagram called hikerbabes and they were looking for ambassadors all across the world. I debated sending a bio in but finally just went for it and now I am the Winnipeg chapter ambassador! This Sunday will be our second hike as a group and it’s all about empowering and motivating women to get out and enjoy the great outdoors together. The lady who started hikerbabes also start the movement “journey to 100”. Basically you have to complete 100 hikes but there is no time frame, you complete the hikes on your own terms. I’m really loving the idea of the group so far and I can’t wait to see more women out on the trails.
Devils Punch Bowl (May 13, 2018)
My first hike of the season was back in May (thank goodness for all the great weather we’ve been having). Pascal and I decided to head to Devils Punch Bowl. It’s about a 2 hour drive outside the city. We made a wrong turn at first (we went into Spruce Woods Provincial Park, you need to drive past that turn off and then you’ll see a sign on the left hand side of the road for where you need to turn). It was a good day to hike there, not too hot but definitely still needed lots of water and snacks. The Devils Punch Bowl trail is 7km return. I consider the trail to be beginner level, with just a couple of steep parts. The trail is mostly sand so you WILL get sand in your shoes and you’ll want to have some shoes with good ankle support. There are lots of benches on the trail to take breaks and a bathroom in the parking lot and one at the halfway point on the trail. The highlight of the trail for me was getting to see some turtles sunbathing. The whole trail took us about 2 hours, with us taking breaks to take in views and read the information panels along the trail.
Devils Punch Bowl
Spirit Sands – Sand Dunes (June 2, 2018)
A couple of weeks after my first visit, I went back but this time with some women from my hikerbabes group to do our first hike as a group. We decided to do the sand dunes this time and we were not disappointed. It was cloudy which was good because it wasn’t so hot. We spent about 3 hours on the trail (we could have went a little further but it began to rain so we headed back). At the start of the trail there is a shelter area with picnic tables so we had lunch there together. We made sand angels and climbed sand hills. I would consider this part of the trail to be harder than devils punch bowl, more of an intermediate trail. If you only have time to do one of the trails, I would choose the sand dunes over devils punch bowl, as it has more of a desert feel to it, making it an interesting trail for the prairies.
Hikerbabes 100 Hike Challenger Patch
Stairs in the Sand
I will continue to write about my hiking adventures and I hope to get lots of hikes in before the warm weather passes (including some overnight hikes). If anyone has any recommendations of where to hike in and around Manitoba, let me know so I can explore. Also, if you’re interested in joining the hikerbabes movement, feel free to join the Winnipeg chapter on Facebook (just search hikerbabes community: Winnipeg, Canada on facebook) and join us on our next hike! Feel free to follow me on Instagram as well to keep up with my adventures, @coasttocoast709 .
Back in January my friend Ashley (who lives in Newfoundland) expressed interest in travelling somewhere together after her semester of University was finished and before she started her work term. We talked about going to Ireland but realized it was too expensive to do with no time to plan. We stayed on the phone for over 2 hours discussing different ideas and finally settled on a cruise. We found one that was happening on the days that she had available and we found flights that lined up with the cruise as well. We went ahead and paid for everything, planned some shore excursions, and (not so) patiently waited for April to arrive.
April 15 (Day One of Vacation – Airport Bad Luck)
So the plan for Sunday was to fly to Toronto, meet Ashley there, and take the same flight to Miami. Mother Nature had other plans for us though. Toronto was experiencing a huge rain and ice storm so my flight to Toronto got delayed 8 times before they let us fly. Ashley’s flight however made it on time and she got to board the flight to Miami. I arrived in Toronto in time for my flight but was 15 minutes late for border control so I got put on the first flight the next morning. Ashley had to spend the night in Miami airport by herself and I got a hotel close to Toronto airport ($200 I really didn’t want to spend). We were both so anxious all night that I wouldn’t make it in time for the cruise. I tried my best to get some sleep before heading back to the airport for 4:30am.
April 16 (Day Two of Vacation – Miami,Florida)
When I got back to the airport in the morning, I kept checking the updates every 5 minutes to see if anything had changed. I loaded the plane on time and got a notification saying that our flight was delayed another 30 minutes (every time I got a notification, I had a panic attack. Not a fun way to start a vacation). Finally the plane started moving. There was a line up with 8 planes ahead of us as only one runway was open and it was very icy. The woman sat next to me on the plane (her name was Blanka) was extremely nice and we held hands through the turbulence. It was great to have someone so talkative sitting next to me, she told crazy stories and we drank wine to help with the anxiety. I finally made it to Miami and was reunited with Ashley! We quickly grabbed my luggage and found a van that was headed to the cruise port. There was an older couple that was in our van and going on the same cruise as us that insisted on paying for our cab fare. They were hilarious and super cute in that “fights like an old married couple” kind of way. As soon as we arrived on the ship we bought an “all you can drink” package because after all the craziness of the flights, we decided we deserved to be drunk every day. We spent the rest of the day getting sun burnt (I complained a lot but it was worth it), had a great first meal and met some nice couples, and listened to some 70s music. I also decided that I need to work on a cruise ship before I die.
My plane buddy, “Blanka”
Reunited! (note how exhausted we look)
Drinking time, finally.
April 17 (Day Three of Vacation – Nassau,Bahamas)
I had never been outside of North America before but I had heard lots of stories about how persistent sellers in tourist communities were. None of the stories prepared me for just HOW persistent they were, I definitely felt very overwhelmed at first. Within 5 minutes of being on shore, we were also asked if we “needed” to “buy some trees” (by the same guy trying to rent us scooters). We had no plans for Nassau but were approached by multiple tour guides, all trying to sell their experience. Dave of “Simply Dave” stood out to us, as he seemed genuine and wasn’t being naggy. If you are ever in Nassau, I highly recommend supporting his family business. He called us mermaids, laid out a mini red carpet for us to board his tour van and brushed our feet off for us after the beach. We felt like royalty for sure and he seemed to really love his job and country. As we drove around the city, everyone kept beeping their horns and I asked if we were doing something wrong. Apparently it’s a friendly greeting in the Bahamas, and not a way to get angry with each other. After our day ashore exploring the city, we went back to the ship to have a nap. We went to have some drinks and the bartender (Loue) that gave us our drink packages remembered us and invited us to his floating bar for the next day (he had a MAJOR crush on Ashley).
“Welcome to the Bahamas”
The “Queens” staircase
Big chair at the Atlantis Casino
April 18 (Day Four of Vacation – Cococay,Bahamas)
Our next day was spent on a private island owned by the cruise line. It was a small island (we easily walked the whole island and back in 30 minutes). We went and visited Loue’s floating bar and saw a sand shark while we were there. Apparently there is too (Sandy & Randy) that have been hanging around the island for years and their harmless. Me and Ashley competed in a hula hoop contest, I came in 3rd place but lost to a little girl. We also competed in a limbo contest (Ashley did much better than me but again we lost to little kids). We danced on the beach and enjoyed some beverages. When we got back to the ship, we found out that our parasailing that we had booked for Key West the next day was cancelled because Donald Trump would be there, making it a “no-fly” zone (another reason to hate Trump). We got a refund and booked a parasailing trip in Miami instead, for our last day of vacation. Later that night, we went to watch “Love & Marriage”, a live marriage game show that was hosted on the ship and it was equal parts funny and cute.
The color of the ocean in this picture makes me so happy
Deciding that I NEED a hammock in my life
April 19 (Day Five of Vacation – Key West,Florida)
Although parasailing was cancelled, we had booked snorkeling as well. Although I am not a strong swimmer AT ALL, I really wanted to jump off the boat and into the ocean. I thought I would be fine with my life jacket on but once I hit the water, I panicked and quickly swam over to one of the boats crewmen to hold onto his life saver. They gave me a pool floaty and then I felt much calmer and was able to enjoy the experience (I definitely need to take swim lessons). When we were back onboard, we saw a shark and a sea turtle. Once ashore we went and ate at a restaurant called “The Sand Bar”. I had some of the best mac & cheese I’ve ever had! Also, a lady wearing a military uniform walked up to us and gave us $30 worth of gift certificates to go towards our meal (people can be so giving!). When we got back onboard we made it our mission to try and find Loue so that we could say goodbye (Ashley even made me call the help desk to ask which bar he was working at). We went to every bar and had multiple drinks but could not find him. Ashley wrote him a letter and left it in the tip envelope hoping her would get it but has yet to respond to her (I’ll let you know if we ever find him).
“The Sand Bar” and my delicious mac & cheese
Swimming with the fishies
April 20 (Day Six of Vacation – Miami,Florida)
Back in Miami and sadly our last day of vacation. Got to check another item off by bucket list though and go parasailing! It was a lot less scary that I imagined it being. Taking off and landing were both some calm and controlled. We got to spend about 8 minutes in the air getting a great view of the city. At the end of being in flight, they dipped us multiple times into the ocean which was probably my favorite part. We taxied there but on the way back we figured out how to take the bus and skytrain which was honestly a big win for us and saved us some money. We really wanted to get tattoos but didn’t have enough time or cash left (next trip we will definitely be putting ink on our body). Once we got back to the airport we checked in and then went to eat. When we were done eating, I checked for my passport and realized I left it at check in. I went to go look for it and they were after giving it to someone else, making me wait 30 minutes and panic thinking I wouldn’t make my flight in time (did I mention I have horrible luck when flying?). I got it back and made it home in one piece.
My favorite “selfie” ever
Amazing trip with a childhood friend, definitely going to try to make a tradition of travelling together. Getting to leave the country and explore just makes me realize how many places I haven’t been to yet. I have the travel itch BAD. Trying to work hard and make dreams happen, setting goals for myself has helped. Next big trip will hopefully be backpacking in Thailand with Pascal, just need to keep saving money! Also, for my trip I wanted to buy a camera that was similar to a GoPro but without the cost. I found this one on Amazon and I loved it! I took all my underwater pictures with it and my parasailing ones as well. Served the purpose I was wanting it for and didn’t set me back hundreds! Where has been your favorite place to travel so far? Craziest travel story? I want to hear them all, leave me a comment!
Today marks 29 days meat free! It has been surprisingly easy for me to stay faithful to this lifestyle. I was afraid that when I went on my cruise last week (which I will be writing a post about this week), that I would have no options and would be tempted with all the food around me. Everyday we ate buffet style for pretty much every meal so there were always lots of vegetarian options for me to enjoy. The day before I left for my trip, Pascal, his parents and I, went to a restaurant that was actually recommended to me by a fellow blogger, kiracanadiangirl. It is Taiwanese-Chinese vegetarian restaurant called Affinity Garden.
About Affinity Garden
Affinity Garden was unlike any vegetarian restaurant I’ve ever been too. I find that all too often, vegetarian restaurants just offer salads and veggie burgers. Not Affinity Garden. They offer all your favourite Chinese style foods, just as a veggie option. They have been in downtown Winnipeg since May of 2001 and I’m surprised I haven’t heard of them sooner. They guarantee that all their products are MSG free, they only use purified water, and they pride themselves in their great tea that is specially delivered from Taiwan.
There were so many options to choose from, the only problem was that we had no idea what anything was. So we decided the best way to get to try a little bit of everything was to buy the dinner for four and share. It said dinner for four but honestly with the amount of food brought to the table, we easily could have fed 5 or 6. First they start you off with a soup, either hot & sour or wonton (we all chose wonton). After that they start bringing all the dishes to the table, one by one and spread out in time to give you a chance to finish what your eating and to make room on the table for more. The combo we got included spring rolls, garden special chow mein, sweet & sour soyapork, colorful bean curd layers, assorted mushrooms with seasonal greens, and white rice. My personal favourite was the sweet & sour soyapork, although no one else seemed to overly enjoy it. As you can guess from the name, it’s a vegetarian version of sweet and sour pork. The sauce was phenomenal and the added sweet bell peppers made a nice touch. We also ordered a side of both steamed dumplings and pan-fried dumplings. They were probably my second favourite thing we had for supper (I enjoyed the pan fried ones slightly more than the steamed). For dessert, we were each served a green tea jello that was surprisingly tasty (we also ordered green tea to drink with our meal, equally as tasty).
Sweet & Sour Soyapork
Garden Special Chow Mein
Colorful Bean Curd Layers
Assorted Mushrooms with Seasonal Greens
Affinity Garden was EXTREMELY quiet for a restaurant. There was one other family there when we were there and there was no music playing so it felt like everyone could hear everything you were saying. I really enjoyed the artwork on the walls though and the staff were very friendly. When we were paying for our bill, we all took some candy from their candy dish and then the lady who runs the place went through her bag of candies to find us her favourite one that she wanted us to try (very sweet lady).
Although the food was anything too special or out of this world, it was definitely nice to see a different take on vegetarian options. I suggest everyone trying it at least once, if nothing more than for the experience (please try the sweet & sour soyapork and tell me I’m not the only one who loved it). If anyone has anymore vegetarian restaurant options, I would love to hear them! Or if you have any of your own recipes that you wouldn’t mind sharing, drop them below. Thanks for reading, I can’t wait to share my cruise experience with you all!
Last week I shared my experience about trying to cut meat out of my diet. I decided that I would share the journey with you by sharing three restaurants that I tried that would make it easy to drop meat from your diet. On Easter Monday Pascal and I went to Stella’s, the Provencher Blvd location to see what their veggie selection looked like.
Stella’s has been around since 1999, with the first location opening up in Osborne Village. They pride themselves on offering quality simple, healthy food choices. They bake all their own breads and focus on soups, salads and sandwiches. Two of the original four founders still own the company. They currently have 8 locations, all in Winnipeg, with plans to continue expanding.
I decided to try something completely new to me, ratatouille. I’m going to be honest, I always thought ratatouille was some kind of creamy pasta. I was pleasantly surprised. It consisted of oven roasted zucchini, eggplant, tomato, peppers, onion, garlic and fresh herbs all served over quinoa. Drizzled over top was a balsamic reduction (my favorite type of reduction). It was AMAZING! I will definitely be going back to have it again. For my side I had a potato salad, but it was nothing special in comparison to my main dish. Pascal tried the grilled vegetable sandwich and had a side caesar salad. He really liked how fresh and nicely roasted everything in the sandwich tasted. He also tried the “Go Green” smoothie, which I helped myself to as well. I’m usually not a fan of green smoothies but the greens didn’t overpower the taste in this smoothie. I will be buying one for myself next time I return as well.
Ratatouille & Potato Salad
Grilled Vegetable Sandwich & Ceaser Salad
Go Green Smoothie
My favorite things about this Stella’s location is their outside sitting area. Although it was much too cold to sit outside this time, summer is fast approaching and I can’t wait to enjoy some Stella’s breakfast outside in the sunshine. There is also a lot of sitting room inside which is great as the waiting list fills up quickly on the weekends. They are usually pretty good with moving everyone along and we have never had to wait too long for a table. All the hosts and servers are always so friendly, great service for sure.
Although Stella’s isn’t a strictly vegetarian restaurant, they have lots vegetarian friendly options. They even mark their vegetarian options with a green “v” on the menu to help you when choosing.
This Saturday I will be trying restaurant #3 and will try to have the blog post up before I leave for my cruise on Sunday. If you have any more suggestions for restaurants to try, leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!
The past two years I have considered the idea of going vegetarian on and off again. Two summers ago I gave it a try and only lasted two weeks before falling victim to a moose burger. This past week I started watching health documentaries and really started to learn all the health benefits of cutting meat out of your diet along with the economical and ethical reasonings. I decided to give it an honest go this time. One of my biggest concerns would be what would I eat if I was going out to a restaurant to eat? Would there be options I would enjoy? I decided to find 3 restaurants that offered a selection of vegetarian options to help get me started. First up, Boon Burger.
About Boon Burger
I was surprised to learn that Boon Burger actually started in Winnipeg. They are Canada’s first all vegan cafe. All food is made from scratch and 100% cruelty free. They have won multiple awards and were even featured on “You Gotta Eat Here”. They recycle, compost, don’t use microwaves or deep fryers, and try to share their knowledge of living a vegan lifestyle. Talk about doing their share to help the planet and the animals!
Boon Burger’s menu is very much like other burger joints; burgers, fries, hot dogs, and salads. The only difference is that no animals were harmed in the making of their meals. They have 4 different types of patties; grilled boon patty, grilled buddha patty, grilled white patty and grilled black bean patty. I’ve been really enjoying chickpeas lately so I choose a burger that had the grilled buddha patty. The patty is made up of chickpeas and brown rice and seasoned with curry, onion, fresh ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro and lemon juice. The burger was called “Bombay Heat”. The burger consisted of the patty basted in frank’s hot sauce, bacun (you guessed it, meat-free bacon), glazed yams, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers and curry mayo. The hardest part was deciding how to fit it in my mouth as it was overflowing with toppings ( I’m not complaining!). For my side I chose their caesar salad. The salad contained romaine lettuce, croutons, caesar dressing and cheeze (dairy free cheese). I was unsure how I was going to feel about the cheeze, as cheese is one of my favorite foods and will definitely be the hardest thing to give up if I go vegan, but it was actually delicious. It still tasted creamy like cheese and wasn’t a completely new taste. It would make giving up cheese easier for me, that’s for sure. They also serve ice cream that is made from coconut milk. I didn’t have it this visit but tried it during my previous visit and I highly recommend giving it a try. It was another one of those items that I was iffy about trying as I am a huge ice cream lover but it satisfies the ice cream craving without having to consume animal products. Win win!
I really adore the look of the restaurant inside, kind of has a rustic feeling to it. By the front counter they have a huge chalkboard where they write all the specials. Around the restaurant there are plants hanging. My favorite part though has to be how they keep track of who ordered what. When it is busy they will hand you an animal figure to place on your table so they know what table to bring what meals to (it wasn’t too busy when we went this time but the previous visit they used the animals). Such a neat idea! They also have cute stickers that are free for the taking.
Cover of the Menu.
Cute sticker they give out (I put mine on the back of my cell phone.)
I’m really excited to see what restaurants in the city have a wide selection of veggie options. I never really paid attention to this before so it’ll be fun to revisit some of my favorites and see what they have to offer. If you have any suggestions on where to eat meat-free in the city, please leave a comment! Any tips or tricks for cutting meat out of my diet are also welcome. I’m only on day 6 so I have a long journey ahead of me.
It can be hard to find the motivation to exercise in the winter, especially if you aren’t an outdoor kind of person or you hate the cold. The fifth and final activity that I’m going to share for this series is one that the whole family can have fun doing. This is one that will be sure to get you moving and is also a great idea if you’re trying to think of where to host your kids birthday. If you’re looking for something new to add to your exercise routine, give Flying Squirrel a try.
What is Flying Squirrel?
Flying Squirrel is the world’s largest indoor trampoline park. They currently have 12 locations, including locations in both Canada and USA with some new locations under way. Ticket pricing at the Winnipeg location starts at $20 for 60 minutes of jump time and this gives you access to all areas, not just the trampolines. They also have special times for just adults on weekend nights. Every Tuesday they offer special pricing for the whole day where children with special needs jump for $8 an hour and the caretaker jumps for free (how awesome is that?!) They have fitness classes starting soon as well. With so many options, there’s no excuse to give it a try!
What is there to do at Flying Squirrel?
Flying Squirrel is more than just a trampoline park. They have 17 attractions and 31 trampolines. My favorite attractions were the rock climbing wall (3 people can climb at once) and the Battle Beam. Me and Pascal raced each other up the rock climbing wall and were exhausted after just 3 tries. The Battle Beam is where you balance on a beam with another person and use soft jousting bars to try and knock the other person off and into the pit of foam blocks (I won). They also have huge air bags you can fall onto (I was too afraid to fall backwards) and rope swings, just to name a few. Head on over to https://flyingsquirrelsports.ca/winnipeg-manitoba/attractions/ to see a full list of attractions. They also have a small arcade area and a bar & cafe.
They whole time I was there, all I could think about was how cool it would of been to have a party there as a kid. But in all honesty, I still had lots of fun there as an adult. So if you’re trying to think of a fun new date night idea or where to spend a family outing, check out Flying Squirrel and let me know your opinions.Head on over to my Instagram page ( @coasttocoast709 ) to see some video clips from Flying Squirrel as well. If you have any other fun date ideas for Winnipeg, please let me know as well. We love trying new things!
I know, I know. I said I was going to get better at giving myself time to write but it’s been a month. Life got crazy busy, between me studying and also planning a baby shower for my friend. But no more excuses! I enjoy writing so I need to give myself more time to do the things I enjoy. I know that winter is technically over already, but let’s be honest. It still feels like winter in Winnipeg and probably will for a while. While you’re waiting for the weather to warm up, why not try a new recipe.
Recently I became interested in baking my own scones. It went really well the first time so I’ve just continued to collect scone recipes from Pinterest and test them out. The first one I made was a toffee and chocolate scone and the second was a jalapeno and cheddar scone. The one I’m going to be talking about today is the last one I tried making, savoury ricotta scones.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
3/4 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons of chilled unsalted butter (cut into tiny cubes)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup of milk (I used 2%)
1 egg beaten with a teaspoon of water (for egg wash)
black pepper and paprika for topping
Heat oven to 425 F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
Add the butter. The recipe suggested using a pastry blender but I don’t own one of those yet so I used 2 knives instead and just chopped around until the mixture was coarse. The knives worked just fine!
Stir in green onions and ricotta cheese.
Add milk and stir until a shaggy dough forms.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead gently into a ball.
Once all combined, pat down ball into a 1 inch thick circle and cut in 8 triangles.
Carefully transfer triangles onto ungreased cookie sheet, making sure you leave a bit of space between each one.
Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with black pepper and paprika. (I almost forgot this very important step!)
Bake 15-20 minutes or until scones are golden brown and puffy.
Remove from oven. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. (This is the hardest part for me as I just want to eat them right away.)
I almost forgot to put the egg wash and toppings on!
Scones are a lot easier to make than I thought they would be and there is so many variations you can do. Pretty much anything can be added to a scone, both sweet or savoury. I think the next one I want to try is a salted caramel and apple scone. If you try this recipe or have other scone recipes that you think I should try, leave me a comment and let me know!