a mailbox collection

it’s not a secret that we love mail, so sometimes when friends find postal-themed items for sale, they send them our way — and this is how we’ve ended up with a small collection of cute mailboxes from around the world.

the first one was a yellow “piggy bank” from correos, offered to us by maike and wiebke who were on holidays in spain at the time:

a chinese one followed some months later, given to us by jifeng in china. it’s also a coin container, but a much heavier one. it brought such nice memories of our time there!

some years later, our friend cecília found this cute tin mailbox, and thought of us:

and the latest specimen to enter our collection is a hand-carved mailbox from canada. alida is a postcrosser, and her husband fred does woodwork, so he carved this tiny mailbox for us. it’s adorable!

and so the accidental collection grows… :)


the hindu temple

through atlas obscura, the boy found out about this hindu temple (or mandir) near where we were staying in toronto. it’s a special place because the whole thing was meticulously carved out of marble and other stones, and then put together here like a 3d puzzle, without any iron framework or nails even! just pieces of rock, stacked together with “glue”. it’s hard not to feel awe when looking at something like this.

given how the temple built, the scale of it was really impressive. it’s one thing to carve a couple of rocks… but to carve all these thousands of pieces (inside and out) to make a whole temple is a labour of love.

you can’t photograph inside, but the ceilings and walls in the main chamber were just amazing to look at. every bit of space was carved intricately, the light playing on its shapes and depth. flowers and patterns emerged from domes, covering everything in a canopy of beauty.


we’re not religious in the least, but i can’t help wonder if it helps, if people who pray here feel somehow different for having this physical proof of effort and devotion all around them. it was certainly inspiring to just walk around in our socks, eyes glued to the ceiling.

on our way out, a quick detour through the giftshop revealed a treasure of yummy vegetarian snacks! naturally, we tried some out and could barely contain ourselves from inhaling the whole thing on the ride home. :D


s’mores!

how many times have we seen people doing s’mores in movies, with sticks around a campfire? so naturally, this was on the list of things we wanted to try in toronto. :D

we got helpful tips from a friend’s teenager granddaughter on the proper way to do them, gathered the ingredients and off we went. the first step (if you don’t have a campfire nearby), is just to lay everything out in artistic piles, and then pop your creations in the oven to melt the chocolate + brown the marshmallows…

… which our oven did exceedingly well. :| sigh.

so after replacing all those burnt marshmallows, we tried again, this time keeping a careful eye on the whole thing. a minute or two was all it took for them to become golden, and then it was just a matter of topping them with another cracker to make a sandwich.

squishy goodness ensued! :D we discovered s’mores are delicious but extremely sweet, so we soon realized we’d been a bit ambitious with the quantity we made. oh well…

i’d still like to try them out in a campfire someday, but for now, i’m happy we succeeded at this quintessential north american experience.


breakfast restaurants

why is it so hard to find a place that serves good, hearty breakfasts where we’re from? i *love* the fact that you could get up at any time in north america and a meal with eggs and carbs is just around the corner.

so naturally, we indulged quite a bit while in canada…

the formula seems simple enough: bottomless mugs of coffee, plus some form of carbs (pancakes, waffles, toast, potatoes, fruit), bacon, and most importantly, eggs — lots of eggs, in all their configurations! in short, brilliancy on a plate.

our european breakfasts feel almost dainty in comparison. these are proper thousand-calorie meals that will keep you full for the rest of the day. personally, i think i’d probably be ok with having a single one of these midday and call it a day…

although i love our toasts and pastries, i think we could use more of this in europe. if i did not already have enough stuff on my plate for a few lifetimes, i would open a place like that (complete with a flock of chicken in the background to supply the essential ingredient).

if anyone wants to do just that, i’d probably volunteer to beat some eggs! :D


kayaking in toronto harbour

when i wrote the list, i added “kayaking on the lagoon”, thinking it was time we took to the waters in the ria formosa… but it’s one of those things that is so close by, you never get around to actually doing it.

fast forward to last month, there were were in toronto, and our friend lynda mentioned that you can kayak to the islands in front of the city, and how the best view is actually from the water… so we rented one, strapped on some life jackets and went for it!

turns out, kayaking around in a busy body of water while trying to avoid the airport exclusion zone and dodge the big ferries isn’t as easy as it sounds. i confess i panicked a few times… but it was well worth it for the view. all those skyscrapers against a backdrop of water and blue skies! we parked the kayak for a while and just took it all in.

the view of the city from the open water was the highlight of this adventure, but we also enjoyed cruising between the islands in very uncoordinated zig-zags. kayaking is not easy, and at some point we broke the rudder in ours, making the return a tricky challenge. must practice more!

we stil plan to go kayaking on our own lagoon someday, but for now i’m happy to tick this goal off the list with a flourish — we did it! :D