Travel: Bucket List

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I think this may be the first of several travel bucket lists I have. The problem with the internet is that it opens you up to new places and new dreams that you never even knew existed!! My list is pretty tame. I am not someone who craves adventure. Instead I love ocean views, hilly countrysides and most of my destinations have a pretty decent wine list. So (currently) here is my top ten:

1) Sicily – I have twice attempted to visit Sicily  – both times were thwarted by my Calabrian family and the incredible prepared meals for us.

2) Santorini – When we were in Greece we ended up visiting right in the middle of the riots – as such – all ferries were on strike.

3) Prague

4) Nicoya, Costa Rica

5) France – all of it, except Paris.

6) Portugal

7) Sardinia, Italy

8) New Zealand

9) Ireland

10) Andorra

Like I said pretty tame!! And most could probably be hammered out by any dedicated backpacker in 5 weeks. However, I am a slow traveler. I like to spend at least 2 weeks in any one country. I hate being on the rush, on the go. I do enough of that here at home.

I also have the “problem” of simply returning to where I’ve been. Italy especially. Part of my heart will always live there and I am constantly drawn to it. Now that I’m a mom I also like being familiar with a place before bringing my daughter there. It’s a sense of security I never needed before her.

So what tops your travel bucket list???

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Food: Giada’s Salmon with Lemon & Capers

Here’s another great recipe from Giada. It’s super easy and super quick. Definitely doable after a long day of work. From start to finish you’re looking at about 20 -25 minutes and depending on your sides you may be waiting longer for rice to cook!

Salmon is so healthy for everyone in your family (even toddlers!) unfortunately it is getting extremely hard to find wild caught salmon in any of the grocery stores near me. So we tend to only eat it in the summer when Grandpa has had a successful day of fishing. However, we still usually buy farmed from the store every once and awhile and this is our favourite way to cook it. There is a huge debate about wild vs. farmed salmon – which I don’t have the time or energy to delve into today. I firmly believe everything in moderation and personally I prefer wild over farmed but I have a sinking feeling farmed may be our only option in the not so distant future.

When buying farmed salmon from the grocery store you want to make sure it has a nice pink colour, doesn’t smell like fish and does not have too much fat. If you look closely at the fish you will see white lines separating the pink. Lots of white = lots of fat so try and pick pieces with as little white as possible. Ask your local grocer when they usually get the delivery of salmon and try to shop on those days when it will be the most fresh.

Here is the link to the original recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/salmon-with-lemon-capers-and-rosemary-recipe.html

Step one: I tend to take the skin off the salmon, this is optional but after washing the slice of fish just take your favourite filet knife and cut the skin off (or leave it on). Grab a piece of foil, place the salmon on it and fold up the sides loosely. Pour some olive oil, salt & pepper on the piece of salmon.

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Step 2: Mix your freshly squeezed lemon juice, wine and capers. I use a 1-1 ratio of lemon juice:wine simply because we tend to love anything citrus-y in our house. Pour about 3 tablespoons of the mixture into each tin foil pod & add a couple of slices of lemons.

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Step 3: Wrap these babies up and stick on a BBQ or a grill pan for 10 minutes. Seriously, just 10 minutes.

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Step 4: Enjoy!

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I typically serve salmon with some wild grain rice & a nice big salad. Delicious & Nutritious!

Enjoy!

* I did not use rosemary in the recipe, I am not a huge fan of it plus I hate buying a large bunch of herbs to use in a single recipe*

Travel: The beauty of home rental sites

I have been using VRBO & Home-Away for about 3 years now. I am a huge fan, I have always had fantastic experiences and being able to have a fully furnished house/apartment is worth its weight in gold – ESPECIALLY if you have children. I love having a full size fridge for milk, a stove & oven to cook and heat things up with and actual bedrooms with their own doors for naptimes.

If you’re traveling with children or a large family it is definitely worth your time and energy to search for an apartment rental. We have rented apartments and houses in Italy (Rome & Pizzo), Florida, California and Vancouver to name a few. If you are traveling with more than 2 people it is usually the same price or slightly cheaper than a hotel (as long as you’re not planning on renting a mansion).

I always look for places with good reviews, if there is a new listing in an apartment complex I tend to look for reviews of other apartments in the same unit. That will usually let you know if it’s worth the risk of staying in an unreviewed listing (everyone has to start somewhere!).

It is definitely a lot less stressful having your own space to go back to after a long day of sight-seeing. I do not miss any hotel amenities because the ability to go grocery shopping and have snacks, breakfasts and lunches ready to go instead of having to find a child friendly restaurant is much better than having someone make your bed every day (although with many rentals you can add this in).

Over the years, I’ve noticed a huge increase in the number of rental properties available in any given location – this is great & a bit daunting. You can literally look for days trying to find which one is right for you & your budget. Figure out what is at the top of your list (how many bedrooms, beach view or beach front, closest grocery store or bar?), and then start narrowing down your options.

And that’s my 2 cents on the best places to stay when traveling with children!! (or large groups). Happy Travels!