Cinnamon Bun Dough


Warm from the oven, these cinnamon knots are guaranteed to make your home smell amazing.


Warm, cinnamon buns, fresh from the oven oozing cinnamon and butter are a real wintery treat.  When the girls were growing up, their favourite way to use this dough was in cinnamon knots.  So much fun when my darling granddaughters Sloan and Stella are now in the kitchen helping!  I love it.


These little sweeties love helping Nana in the kitchen, and it is even more fun for Nana – never too young to learn how to make a great sweet yeast dough.  They are already well versed in making pizza dough!

Scald 1 cup milk

Pour into a bowl, adding 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup butter

Stir until the  butter has totally melted and the sugar and salt have dissolved.

Meanwhile ….., dissolve: (I use my kitchen aide stand mixer for this part)

1 tsp sugar in 1/2 cup lukewarm water

Stir in 1 tbsp (or 1 envelope) yeast

Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom.  Stir and add milk/butter mixture.

Add 1 beaten egg, followed by 2 cups unbleached flour.

Stir and knead until mixed well – slowly add another 2 cups flour.  You may need to do this by hand at this point.  Knead well until the dough is soft.  It may take up to another cup of flour to get to this point and not have the dough too sticky.

Turn into a greased bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled.

Tip dough onto lightly floured surface.

At this point you have a few options:

a) Cut dough into 24 equal pieces:  Set up 2 bowls, one with melted butter and the other with mixed 1/2 cup white sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Dip each piece into first the melted butter, then the sugar mixture before tying into a knot and placing in a greased muffin tin.

b) Roll dough out into rectangle, brush generously with melted butter, and sprinkle over first cinnamon, then brown sugar.  Starting on the long side, roll up, leaving cut side down.  Cut into 1″ pieces and set on greased baking dish.

c) Using same method as b, once you have the rolled cinnamon buns, do not cut – instead join the ends into a circle, pinching well together.  Set onto a greased baking sheet.  Then – take scissors and snip about 2/3 of the way through all the way around.  Once you have made it around the circle, gently twist each bun to lay flat while staying attached in the middle.

Whatever method you use – now allow the dough to rest and rise again – about 30-40 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, just until golden brown.




Petroglyphs and more

We decided that we really had to do a bit of exploring in this area, particularly knowing that a short distance away, and a very decent hike …. are petroglyphs over 2000 years old.

Heading towards Alta Vista we set off on a 3 km hike into the jungle.  This area is unbelievably lush, and once you get off the beach I think the vines would threaten to cover everything if left unattended.  I truly expected Mowgli to come along, swinging from the tree tops on those long vines.  Vivian was more than a little nervous …. a few squeaks out of her as she claimed that she was WAY out of her comfort zone.  I think she was afraid that it would be Ka she saw, not Mowgli.


We were very happy that it was a bit overcast today, and we were  thankful to be in the jungle for enough of it that we weren’t collapsing with the heat.  (just the humidity)



The trail led us through citrus groves and guava orchards – incredibly beautiful.


The most colourful butterflies kept us company along the way.


Love the way this little guy blends in with the flowers.


Orange trees everywhere.


We did try one that LOOKED ripe …. it most definitely was not.

More than a few cows wondered where we were going …


It was 3 km in for this hike, and so lush in that jungle setting.


These “strangler” trees wrap their way around other trees until they have virtually taken over!


Some of the petroglyphs were moss covered, others very easy to visualize.



So many spots in Mexico contain areas like this – something created by the human hand thousands of years ago – still here for us to view.


Hot, tired and happy – perfect photo opportunity.


It was quite a strange feeling in this area, where people lived and worked thousands of years ago, and it still contains a bit of that mystical feeling.  This is certainly one of those moments that stays in the memory bank.


We really had to wonder if an earthquake sometime in the past scattered all these boulders.

This area is well known for pineapples, bananas, and salt production …. the sea salt definitely has the taste of the ocean, unlike sea salt we have purchased in the stores at home.

Just as critical as salt …. sweet!!  Mexicans love their sweet treats and they are in abundance everywhere.


Sweets galore, mostly made of coconut or tamarind.


Bags of sea salt for sale.


I forgot … limes also!  They are growing everywhere.


Far off in those hills they also have coffee plantations.  We bought some today that was roasted last night!


Fresh pineapple here never seems as acidic as it is at home.


If you haven’t had fresh ceviche at a beach, or beach town … what are you waiting for?

We’ve certainly had a few adventures trying to find beaches  ….. signs stating that a beach is ahead, however we come to a locked gate or such a big puddle we can’t progress any farther.

I think we we would all agree that Chacala is a wonderful destination for a relaxing beach holiday.  If you do happen to see a beach vendor, go ahead and buy those peanuts – they are amazing!

This is a very small village, our casa is right beside the kindergarten – naturally a family lives there also.


These kids are probably 6 and 4 – they have been busy folding their own laundry off those clotheslines!

After tonight it is time for us once again to say:

Hasta la vista la playa (see ya later beach) and head back to a cold winter at home …. until January!

Beach life at Chacala

Life at the beach quickly settles in a rhythmic system ….. it goes something like:


Casa Monarca, Chacala, Nayarit, Mexico  ….. Our home for 8 days and a great place for relaxation.

Wake up, make coffee and breakfast and relax

Sit beside the pool and read and relax



Go to the ocean to bob in the waves, read, maybe have a soda water and relax


This beautiful bay at Chacala is perfect for bobbing in waves, with water as warm as the air.  Sometimes the waves get a big bigger when the tide is coming in, but overall a relaxing place to swim – yep, even for me.

Head back to the pool for a refreshing dip, (pool water is cooler than the ocean), read and relax


Yes, by this time of day we are relaxing with wine …

Make guacamole and salsa to enjoy on the rooftop deck and relax


Fresh salsa and guacamole on the rooftop deck, with an incredible view of the ocean – fabulous sunsets.


Prepare and eat dinner in our well stocked kitchen


I know, you are probably thinking that blender is whipping up margaritas, but nope.  So far it has been used for salad dressing, achiote marinade for pollo pibil, and salsa roja.

Go for a post dinner walk and an ice cream bar

Come home to relax before bed

Repeat that again the next day ……

If we break out of our relax mode we might just make it to the petroglyphs and the major market in La Penita … stay tuned (I know, you are on the edge of your seats).  We have to be on the edge of our seats, it is too hot to be anywhere else, we stick.

Chacala, Nayarit, Mexico

Beach life ……

Thursday began with a rude awakening at 5:30 a.m., in order to meet our driver down at the Teatro Principal for the journey to Guadajuanato Airport.


Through sleepy path ways our suitcases rattle along.

At this point we feel like the only people in Guanajuato awake.

However, of course not!  Right at the steps of Teatro Principal we found our driver, Israel.  Off we went …..


If possible, the tunnels seem even more eery when we are the only car driving along …..

The flight itself was smooth and quick, a far cry from our lengthy journey by bus to get inland.  Oh, if only that volcano hadn’t been acting up!

My brother Bruce and our cousin Doug met us at the PV airport.  Bruce seemed to think that we were all going to fit into that VW bug, along with our luggage.  Not a freaking chance.  I ended up with Bruce and the luggage and the rest of the crew went in a taxi.  Doug had his own version of a Mexican Harley … his scooter.


This does look a bit like a cartoon ……


A far cry from the world of Mexican VW beetles, we stopped at Doug and Mona’s swanky condo …… However, that world is out of our budget and so off we went.


At long last … the beach!  We have arrived in Chacala, which will be our home for the rest of the trip.  Time to relax, swim and just soak up some vitamin D.  So fabulous to have a visit with Bruce.  After lunch he and the VW bug made their way to PV, but we know he will be back!


Our first sunset from the deck at our home, Casa Monarca.


No groceries purchased yet, so we wandered down to the beach for dinner while listening to the waves crash on the beach … these coconut shrimp were just delicious!


Waiting for the collectivo to take us into Las Varas, the largest centre to get some groceries.  Chacala has a decent assortment of small spots to get fruit and vegetables, but that is about it.


As you can see, it is really busy here, not sure we can handle the crowds.

With about 300 full-time residents, Chacala is a small fishing village – very rustic and quaint.


As  we arrived in Las Varas the parade celebrating the Revolution of 1910 had just begun.  Or, as Grant would say, it was his planning that had us arriving there in time for the parade!  In any case, this is a big deal down here, with people of all ages taking part.  Probably the longest parade we have ever seen.


We missed the youngest children, but the kids of all ages were wearing the most beautiful outfits.  I had to feel sorry for them as we were sweating without wearing elaborate clothing!



Just loved the way this group were dressed in the traditional regional attire from around Mexico.


Cutest little daycare group sitting watching the parade, needless to say their favourite part was having candy thrown at them from the floats.



Although worn in the parade as depicting the traditional attire, don’t think it isn’t still used as such – when we are in rural Mexico, in small villages, this is still what people are wearing.


It’s not all traditional though ….. these little cheerleaders were high energy and very good.





Unless you live in Mexico, I am sure you haven’t seen this in your local parade – teenagers making margaritas and passing them out to other teenagers!


Sorry Vivi, but I had to include this photo …. It makes me think of that expression that goes something like “a picture is worth a thousand words..”  Hot, tired and hungry all Vivi wants is to be fed, not try and understand a menu.


Taken from our balcony, after a strenuous and exhausting day getting groceries, parade watching and bobbing in the Pacific Ocean it is very nice to be able to come home and sit on our loungers while still listening to the waves crash behind us.

Chacala is about 1 1/2 – 2 hours north of Puerta Vallarta and a great place to come if you want to get away from it all.



Tuesday morning it was time to leave San Miguel de Allende and move on to Guanajuato.  That trip turned out to be pretty simple!  We walked out our door, dragging our suitcases and walked down to the main drag, literally 7 minutes (down, 15 back up Vivi says).  We flagged down a taxi to take us to the bus station, but then asked him how much to take us directly to Guanajuato … 600 pesos and the deal was made.  Off we went.  Things were super easy until we got into Guanajuato and it became apparent that our driver had never been into the big city of Guanajuato.  Thankfully he had no problem flagging down any and all pedestrians to ask for directions to “Teatro Principal”.  Eventually, many tunnels later, we found it, much to his relief but I think he was a bit worried about getting out of the maze.


Strangely enough, the last time Grant and I were in Guanajuato, we were also dropped off at Teatro Principal by the taxi driver.  That time we argued with him that it was not our address, and after much gesticulation, we understood that our driver could NOT drive to the destination, this was as far as a car could go.  Pretty funny this time when the same thing happened, and we were met by our hosts in order to walk up and up and up.

Guanajuato is built with most of its road system underground, in tunnels that were formerly underground rivers.  Above ground there are very narrow streets, single lane with SUPER skinny sidewalks, single file if you are thin.  I don’t know how anybody builds a house here, or even buys a new fridge.  Very few roads, with all the houses built up on the hillsides, and only narrow pathways or stairs to get to them.


We took a few photos of our path down to the centro, just so we could find our way back through the maze!


This is the University of Guanajuato – 25,000 students here really give the whole area that student buzz.


The view from our balcony at Guanajuato.


I think we have certainly had our fair share of odd things to check out in Mexico, but this was right up there in bizarre stuff …… We went to the mummy museum.  The first mummy dug up was in 1865, and there are more than 100 remains on display. Authorities were shocked to find not skeletons, but mummified bodies, complete with clothing and shoes intact. Somehow the lime in the soil kept these mummies preserved.


Just weird.


The buildings are colourful, and just beautiful – every street is so pretty.  A really clean city as well.


Pretty much the first order of business when we get to a new location is to purchase fresh tortillas – ready for breakfast.


The streets are lined with sculptures.


After our long hike UP UP UP to the mummy museum we stopped for a coffee, hot chocolate and pastry ….. Wilson was a little disconcerted to realize that glass in the floor beside him was a view of the tunnels and road system below the city.


Our living room (salon) in Guanajuato, and yes, another night of salsa and guacamole before going out for dinner.


Basilica interior – the churches are often very ornate, but this was incredible. . . chandeliers everywhere and absolutely stunning.  A real sense of the wealth behind the Catholic church, yet incredibly peaceful.


I know, I can’t get enough of the house colours around here …. but I think it might be time to paint my kitchen this shade of blue!



I love the way each little neighbourhood has its own courtyard for socializing.  The further away from the centro that you get, the quieter it will be.


We went to Diego Rivera’s home, where he lived in his early years.  It has been restored beautifully and not only houses much of his own work, but two of the floors are used as art galleries.



Honestly, sorry, can’t remember the name of this artist, but impressionist art is a bit lost on me ….


However, this one of his we both loved.


One floor was devoted to photographs of life in Angola, and these photos were so captivating I just couldn’t believe it.


These would have made amazing prints to purchase and take away, but there weren’t any for sale.


There is simply no reason to be hungry in Mexico – without looking too hard it is easy to find a vendor selling cut up fruit and vegetables – sprinkle on a bit of chile, lime and salt and find yourself a park bench to sit on.  Those are plentiful too!


We made it to the top of the look out – a monument to El Pipila overlooking Guanajuato – quite a steep climb.  We had planned to take the funicular (tram) but it wasn’t working.


I’m really hoping that one of the many photos I have taken of this picturesque city will turn out well enough to be enlarged and hung on a wall – it is truly one of the most beautiful cities.


Waiting for our “comida” – the mid day meal is the most economical way to eat in Mexico.  This four course meal is usually around 70-90 pesos and is pretty much always a great idea.  Today turned out to have a bit of a surprise …. one of the words in the first choice was unfamiliar to me.  I did recognize tomato, peppers and onions so I thought it might be a vegetable dish, and since I knew the next course I was choosing was pork, we went with that.  Sure, there were a few of those vegetables in there ….. but it was mainly cut up weiners!!!


Really??  says Vivi …… these last few steep steps into our home almost do her in …..


On Thursday morning we say Hasta la vista to Guanajuato and fly from Leon to Puerta Vallarta, and from there to beach life at Chacala, where Casa Monarca awaits us …..


San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

One thing I don’t think (no, I’m sure) I’ve ever had to prepare for in travel plans is for volcanic activity delays …. We started out our trip in Vernon at 8 ish on Wed morning – all flights looking like they are just fine and dandy ……. Flight to Calgary was smooth and simple – got there to find out we had a 2 hour delay before our next flight to Puerto Vallarta. Next thing we knew it was cancelled altogether due to the volcanic ash in the air from activity in Colima, Jalisco, Mexico. It was a definite no fly zone. I suppose we could look on the bright side and be grateful that we weren’t on the flight the day before – they flew all the way to 30 minutes from Puerto Vallarta before being turned around, and came all the way back to Calgary. Now, that would have been frustrating.

In any case, we found ourselves spending the night at the Clarion Hotel in Calgary before again leaving for the airport at 5:30 a.m. This time it was clear and sunny in Puerta Vallarta, so the flight went off without any issues. Sadly for us, this meant we missed our flight to Leon in Guanajuato state.

Not to be deterred we got off the plane, walked across the street for a marvellous taco and hopped into a taxi to go check out the bus schedules. Two buses later and a night in Guadalajara we arrived in San Miguel de Allende. Simple, right? Maybe, but it took 52 hours of travel time!

Right across the street from the PV airport, these amazing fish tacos are huge and will immediately satisfy your craving for a taste of Mexico.

Right across the street from the PV airport, these amazing fish tacos are huge and will immediately satisfy your craving for a taste of Mexico.

This was my dainty little shrimp taco (camarones), and it was anything but dainty - however it was delicious!

This was my dainty little shrimp taco (camarones), and it was anything but dainty – however it was delicious!

Our Mexican dining room in San Miguel de Allende, we love it here!

Our Mexican dining room in San Miguel de Allende, we love it here!

As the sun starts to set over San Miguel de Allende you can see the pastel colours and the amazing view from our rooftop deck.

As the sun starts to set over San Miguel de Allende you can see the pastel colours and the amazing view from our rooftop deck.


This is the most beautiful office I’ve ever  worked, and done my blog from, and it looks out over amazing flowers and garden area – the wall is all window.


Our first day we walked about five hours, and no I’m not exaggerating ….. in these areas you are either walking up or down hill – no flat areas.


Yes – we walked all the way up from San Miguel to El Charco – the botanical gardens.  About 1.5 km up and then it was about 3 km walk through the gardens before heading down.


Amazing cactus throughout the botanical gardens.



Having heard that these red fruits on the cactus plant are edible, Grant plucked one off … trying to avoid the spikes (not totally successful in that), broke it open and we all had a taste.  Not very flavourful, and what we didn’t notice was all the teensy tiny barbs on the fruit itself.  Everybody was having mini barbs stuck in their lips for quite a while …..


Always a cathedral handy – every barrio (neighbourhood) has their own, and even in some small towns the church will be very elaborate.


After all that walking we rewarded ourselves with dinner at “Aperi” … and thoroughly loved the 7 course tasting menu, accompanied with wine pairings …. no Grant did not do the wine pairings.  It really was a “foodie” dream come true.


Sadly, this photo does not do the pork belly justice – arrived with the upended margarita glass leaking smoke, and the hickory scent wafted up as the glass was lifted away.  That pork belly was out of this world delicious.


Just a few of the other courses – unbelievably beautiful and delicious, every plate was dreamy.


Gorditas – slightly thicker tortillas, and then stuffed with your choice of many fillings – a great quick lunch.


Just enjoying another church plaza, coffee break and munching churros.  Grant decided to prove to us that we don’t need that selfie stick we see everybody using.  Or is he disproving that theory??  For some reason everybody wants their photo taken with that small fountain …


These ladies sit in the parks all day stitching up “Lupita” dolls.

The next day we played tourist and went on a couple of tours – Wilson went “birding” and Viv and I took in a house tour.  Grant …. had lime ice cream and walked around. During edit stage of this blog, Wilson wanted it mentioned that he saw some birds.


One of the beautiful bedrooms on our house tour.


Most Mexican style homes are centered around a courtyard – and this one was amazing – so lush. It is hard to believe what is behind that doorway right off the street.


Morning mist over San Miguel de Allende – floating away to leave a beautiful day for us.


Hotel Rosewood had a beautiful roof top bar to enjoy a sunset.  San Miguel de Allende is truly a gorgeous place, and it is easy to see why it becomes home to so many ex-pats.  Primarily US but a good showing of Canadians as well, along with a sprinkling of the rest of the world.  Actually …. a few years ago it was voted by Conde Naste as the Number 1 place to live, in the whole world.


Vivian’s drink – gin/watermelon/basil/cucumber – delicious


My drink – mescal, cucumber, lemongrass, and soda water.

I’d like to post Grant’s drink (beer) and Wilson’s (red wine) but they are boring.


Main salon at our Casa, and home of the nightly crib match for Grant and Wilson.


Whipping up a dinner of carnitas (slow roasted pork), potatoes and zucchini, green beans and salad.  The joys of having your own kitchen.

While we all thoroughly enjoyed San Miguel de Allende, it is time to move on ….. and we have to say that this whole Air BNB gig is the best.  We just love having a place to lounge in the morning, relax with your coffee and take your time getting going – eat in or out as your mood dictates.

Time to move on to Guanajuato – only 2 nights there to explore a beautiful silver city.  More on that to come …..