Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Black Count

A second book blog in a row?  Impressive for me.

The Black Count and The Count of Monte Cristo are the books for our book club's summer reading.  I brought both of them on our trip . . . Well really, I downloaded them on the iPad, and although I would prefer using a book, the iPad is surely handy for traveling.

Alexandre Dumas wrote a number of books, The Count of Monte Cristo, being one of them.  The large tome (nearly 1000 pages) has been fairly daunting, which is why I have never read it.  The Black Count, a shorter book, tells the history of Alexandre Dumas, the father of Alexandre Dumas, the author.  The character in The Count of Monte Cristo is patterned after him as is one of the characters in The Three Musketeers.  

The Black Count is a beautifully researched and told biography of Alexandre Dumas, the elder.  The details from the French Revolution were obtained after much perseverance by the author, Thomas Reiss.  I really liked and appreciated how he frequently inserted some first-person accounts of how he obtained information or came to his deductions.  His narrative added credibility to an already interesting story.

Parts of the book were a little tedious.  I wish I could say I did not skim them, but I did.  The vast majority of it, however, was most intriguing.  Although I thought I knew a bit about the French Revolution, I discovered I only knew a little about it, and there was a lot more about it that I wish I had known.

The swashbuckling and courageous Alexandre Dumas, the elder, has been slighted by history.  I hope Mr. Reiss's book will begin the push to give Mr. Dumas the recognition he deserves.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Six Easy Pieces

Kenneth recommended that I read this book though he denies doing so!  So maybe he didn't, but someone did, and I purchased it.  This year I decided to try to read it, since it is billed as a logical and   sensible explanation of the basics of physics.  I never took a physics class, much to my regret, and this seemed to be a good way to learn a little about it.

Well, it was not quite so simple.  And the chapter on energy was such a challenge, I plan to reread it when I am not trying to concentrate above Mike and Mike in the Morning, gorgeous scenery, and Garth Brooks.

Even with the difficulties in concentrating, I learned a lot about physics and how atoms, molecules, gravity, and the universe works.  His explanation of why water expands when it is frozen is the first time I have understood why.  I always knew it did . . . I just did not understand why it happened.  Now I do, though don't ask me to explain it to you until I have reread the explanation twenty more times!

What I found really fascinating was that as challenging as the chapter on energy was, the chapter on gravity made absolute sense!  I remember learning about energy in fifth grade and struggling with it.  Maybe my mind has not grown much since then.  Of course, the chapter on quantum mechanics was way above me . . . And even Don struggled with it . . . But I do now understand what quantum mechanics is.

I thought the ending of the chapter on energy was probably the most important.  Richard Feynmann, the author, observed that if we could figure out a safe way to utilize hydrogen, we could power the entire US with only 150 gallons/minute of water, which is a pittance of what we use now.

And that is why physics is important.  Solving important problems is what physicists do, and I appreciate what they do, and am glad they understand it!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Flowers of Whistler

Many flowers were in bloom, but the prettiest were on top of the mountain and near the chairlifts.  We took several pictures of the heather, but I have yet to identify the orange one.  It certainly punctuated the hillside, however!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Third Test of Heights

The trip to Whistler was my test of my fear of heights.  Isn't going on the suspension bridge course and going zip lining enough?  I guess not, since Whistler has a tramway that runs between two peaks - the only one in the world to do that!

I have ridden the tramway in Albuquerque numerous times and it never bothered me, and I have ridden numerous ski lifts, which did not bother me until I was well into my adulthood.  And then . . .

We had to try the Peak2Peak experience, however, as it looked awesome.  The first chair lift was a gondola - enclosed, so that my desire to jump did not kick in.  After we looked around on Whistler Peak, we boarded the gondola for the Peak2Peak.  The other people in the car were from Ireland and we had a lovely chat as we glided over the canyon and river over 400 feet below us.  Again, because it was an enclosed car, I did not get too nervous.

Below us we were able to see the micro-hydro generating station that provides enough electricity to power Whistler. (Picture to come.)  Impressive and very ecological.  We looked for bears, but did not see any, which was all right.  The scenery was gorgeous and in 15 minutes, we were across to the other side.

On Blackcomb Peak we watched a helicopter land, ate our lunch, and then caught the Peak2Peak back to Whistler Peak.

We then hiked about 1/2 mile to the next chairlift that led all the way to the top of Whistler Mountain.  Now that chairlift even bothered Don.  It traversed straight up . . . I worried about cables breaking sending us careening down the hill, or wind blowing us around, or, or, or.  I don't know what worried Don, but because the chair was the traditional open air kind, I think just the steepness of it was enough to make one queasy.  We did see some cool things, however, including the explosive pulley they use to start avalanches.  Interesting!

At the top the spectacular view made up for my nervousness.  Straight down in many places, I held on to Don to make sure neither of us fell as we walked around.

Can you see the marmot in this picture?  He was a fat little guy!

Interestingly, coming down on the same chair lift was not nearly as scary to either of us.  Weird.

We then caught the Peak2Peak back to Blackcomb.  That gondola was completely full, and we met some lovely children.  We saw one deer, and I was able to recommend the Redwall books to the kiddos in the family.  The mom asked if I was a teacher . . . she said she could tell!

The final chair down Blackcomb Mountain was uneventful, but beautiful.  The trip is made in two different chairlifts, both open-air.  Not at all scary, just gorgeous.

And our last event in Whistler was over.  On Tuesday we would head home from a wonderful time in Whistler, Canada.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Brandywine Falls

The last of the three falls near Whistler was as spectacular as the other two.  Brandywine Falls got their name from a bet made between two men.  They bet a bottle of brandy that would be given to the person who guessed the height of the falls.  They then named it Brandywine.

These falls are more like the Niagara Falls are - they fall straight down.  A long way down.

We hiked about 1/2 mile to the falls, and on the way we met a Swiss honeymoon couple.  They were so nice!  They told us their guide had mentioned to them that they should stare at the falls and then look at the amphitheater wall next to it.  We did . . . and were amazed that the wall swiveled and moved like crazy.  What a wild sensation.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Black-Tail Deer

Coming home from Lillooet, I saw a brown shape on the side of the road.  Then I saw another and another.  "Deer," I said.

But we were uncertain.  They were little, but they were definitely deer.  If a mule deer is a horse, these were ponies.  The little buck had very small antlers, and all three were quite frail, almost like antelope.  Dr. Google told us they are black tail deer - a small version of the mule deer.

We enjoyed watching them, and although our pictures leave a little to be desired, it is easy to see why they were called black tail deer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sights Along the Road to Lillooet

The charming road to Lillooet was filled with gorgeous sights.  Fireweed, lakes, rockslides, glaciers, snow . . . we saw them all.

As we were approaching Lillooet, we came across this bridge.  A one-lane bridge.  On a very busy road.  And there wasn't a lot of notice.

By the time we arrived in Lillooet, we had driven across three one-lane bridges.  We only met one car during the six crossings, but we could see that it would be easy to have head-on collisions.

Don and I salivated over the Cayoosh River.  It was a beautiful stream that would have been perfect to fish . . . if it has any fish.  We have not been able to determine whether fishing is even allowed in it, but if it is, wow!  We would have loved it!

This part is not great fishing . . . but above this it is money!
We would highly recommend the drive to Lillooet, if for no other reason than to see the country.

The Other Part of British Columbia

Last year we drove the other half of British Columbia.  Since we were in Whistler, we wanted to drive the other part.  After we were done canoeing, the weather was rather cloudy so we decided to drive to the town of Lillooet.  It is about 70 miles north of Whistler, which meant it would take much of the afternoon.

The road was quite winding, and very hilly.  We encountered several 13% grades along the way, which made us think this would not be a good road for the Willie.  Luckily, the traffic was not very heavy and we could drive at a leisurely pace.

We came across a pull-out for the Nairn Falls and chose to take the hike.  We had read that there were three different kinds of falls along the Sea to Sky Highway.  Shannon Falls was one kind, and Nairn Falls were another.  They were not spectacular in a "wow, it is such a long drop" kind of way but instead in a "water is a terrific force" kind of way.  The water pours over the rocks, creating potholes that eventually eat away the walls of the canyon.  One such pothole broke through into another pothole that siphoned away some of the water, only to have it rejoin the river a little further down below.

The Pothole that has broken through
The hike to the falls was equally beautiful and worth the stop.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Ready for something a little less adrenaline releasing, we decided to take a canoe trip.  Of course, I have only canoed one time, and that was with Diana when we went to girl scout camp at Camp Seikooc.  And that was in a nasty pond.  Yuk.

This time, there were only three of us in two canoes.  The guide, Lou, shared a canoe with the other man, and Don and I were in the other one. I knew it would be a challenge, but we went anyway!

We started out on Alta Lake practicing sweeping, stopping, and turning.  I was the power, and Don was the rudder.  We did pretty well in the lake, and at the start of the river, I learned to draw, which meant that I could pull the bow to the left or right.  By the time we thought we had the hang of it, we were thrown into a faster part of the river.

Lou warned us that we would end up in the bushes . . . and we did.  Several times.  Don did not handle it very well, but I thought it was rather humorous.  Once we got into the lazier part of the river, we were able to turn and draw so that we stayed out of the weeds and bushes.

In too short a time, the canoe trip was over.  I would not want to canoe in a rushing river, but it was fun for the short time we did it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Terror in the Trees

Heights and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love the views but hate the experience, if that makes sense.  My knees get weak, my stomach queases up, my head swirls.  It is unpleasant to say the least.

So agreeing to do a zip line was a huge deal.  But I thought that it would be a way to stretch myself . . . and add something to my bucket list that was not even there . . . and check it off.  Done!

Don and I first donned our equipment.

After a short bus ride to the first "jump off," we were given our orientation and sent on our way.  I was quite nervous.  Thank goodness the first one was not too fast nor too steep, and once I figured it out, I was on my way.

I screamed the whole way on the first one.  The second one was worse because it was over the river, which was much further down.  The third line was even worse, and I really struggled to fall off the platform.  It was a long ride, and it was a long ways down to the river.

By the fourth ride, however, I was much more comfortable and even enjoyed the trip.  Don was becoming much more comfortable and even took a video of his fourth ride across.

The short final ride, called the freestyle ride, allowed for all sorts of antics.  One woman had fallen backwards off the platform for the fourth ride, which I thought was freestyle enough, but on this one they encouraged us to turn upside down or do something fancy.  The closest I got to fancy was to let go with one hand and wave . . . but Don got a little more creative!

We took the easiest zip line tour available and that was enough.  Don't know if I will ever do it again, but at least I have once.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Shannon Falls

On the way to Whistler, we listened to the app from called Sea to Sky.  Prior to the Olympics, the Canadians upgraded the Sea to Sky Highway to facilitate moving athletes and spectators to Whistler.  It is now a spectacular drive between the ocean and the mountains.

At one point, Gypsy told us to stop at Shannon Falls.  So we did!  This fall was created after the Ice Age.  Glaciers carved out the valley, and when the ice melted, it left a place for the water to fall into the valley below.

To walk to the falls, we walked through a portion of the rain forest and saw many examples of very large cedar trees.  Several of them still had the springboard marks from logging days. 

I have learned that logging is very dangerous, especially when cutting down these large cedar trees.  Don is standing next to one of them.  Glad he isn't trying to cut THAT one down - I hate to think what might have happened to our guttering if he had!

This is one big tree!

Capilano Suspension Bridge

On our way to Vancouver we decided to stop at a private park that boasted of having a number of suspension bridges over a deep gorge.  They also publicized a cliff walk.

Now those of you who know me know that heights and I do not mix too well.  So we decided to go see this place.  If I am going to zip line in Whistler, I need to get over my heights thing, and we thought this might just be the place to do it.

Since the line for the big suspension bridge was slightly long, we went to the cliff walk first.  A number of stairs later, we were hanging over the gorge looking straight down.  I was a little sweaty and my stomach was a little queasy, but I did not freeze and made it successfully across.  Yahoo!

Taking a picture straight down
Then we went across the suspension bridge.  Wiggly?  Yes.  Bouncy?  Yes.  Terrifying? No.  Fun?  Absolutely.  Many people were doing the same thing, and it was frustrating when they would stop to take pictures, but in general, it was a good time.

At one of the rest stops in the treetops

Then we could take the treetop adventure, which was a series of suspension bridges around the rainforest.  Again, it was more crowded than we would have liked, but the actual experience was pretty fun . . . and gorgeous.  The sizes of the red cedar alone impressed us, and the intricacy of the construction of all of the bridges and landings fascinated Don.

And these are the little ones!
Afterwards we had lunch at their "eat-a-teria," grabbed ourselves some of their fudge and headed on our way towards Whistler . . . and zip-lining.  Yowza!

Butchart Gardens

Vancouver Island seems to have the perfect climate for growing gorgeous flowers.  They claim that they were the first to start the hanging potted plant craze in North America.  I believe it - they are everywhere!

One of the signature displays on the island is the Butchart Gardens.  Initially a limestone quarry, Mrs. Butchart insisted that her husband allow her to create the gardens after his company had taken as much limestone as it could to be used in his cement business.  He conceded, and the result is the Butchart Gardens.

The gardens are not just spectacular because of the blooming flowers.  Yes, they are gorgeous, but the way the landscapers combine shapes, sizes, and colors is as spectacular, not to mention the interesting walks and ponds they have added.  But I will let the pictures tell the story:

The pond in the crater; the fountain was designed in the 1960's

A Dogwood

A mining bucket tucked into the garden

The Butchart Gardens take about two hours of casual walking (about 4000 steps according to my Fit Bit), and at the end, reward yourself with their delicious soft-serve ice cream.  Creamy, creamy, creamy.  What a way to end a lovely day!

Love Child Organics

One of the beauties of traveling is the people one meets along the way.  On the ferry we met a professor from a Mennonite seminary who has spent plenty of time in Hillsboro at Tabor College even though he is from British Columbia.  We spent some time in Victoria with a couple from Boston.  And today after we arrived in Whistler, we met a lovely family when we went to the Friday afternoon get-together.

Finding a spot to sit was a challenge, but this young couple and their children were sitting around a fire, and two seats were empty.  We asked if we could sit down and they graciously said yes, though they warned us they had children.  I had already observed, however, that the children were darling and would be delightful to be around.

After a little while we began to chat ("Imagine that," chimes in my brother.  "Karen?  Striking up a conversation?  No way!  Ha, ha!")  They actually live in Whistler and the first thing we discussed is weather.  They had many questions about tornadoes, living in the midwest, and cost of living.

Eventually we got around to what brought them to Whistler, and we learned that they have started an organic baby-food line.  When I asked them what caused them to go into that line of business, they confessed that until they had children, it hadn't crossed their mind, but once their daughter arrived, they realized how small the organic baby food market is.  We talked extensively about the difficulties of starting a business, marketing, and the like.

Turns out their baby food is available in WalMart.  I do not know much about retailing, but I do know that getting into WalMart is a huge deal.  They do not just take anyone!  I did some checking, and their product is definitely available online (for those of you reading this who have little ones or little grand-ones)!

Leah, the mom and President of the firm, said that theirs is the only organic baby food that has no preservatives at all.  When I asked her about it, she explained that although other organic baby food firms do not add preservatives, they frequently use initial ingredients that contain them.  But at Love Child Organics, they very carefully choose their ingredients to make sure they can back up their claim, and they do not add any preservatives.

I have not yet read up on the company, but it appears as if their packaging is a bit unique for the States, too.  Commonly accepted in the UK, the baby food is in pouch form.  Since I have not tried it, I do not know if it is easier or harder . . . but it would be interesting to try.

Another side note - Leah is a former elementary teacher and administrator.  I could tell.  The children played on the lawn as normal children did, but they did not stray far, and they remained in control.  Well-behaved children are a joy . . . and these two were.

I am going to check out to learn more about their products, and you can bet I am going to tell others about them.  I was very impressed with this young family and hope their business grows strong, just like their children.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Victoria on Vancouver Island

The beauty of Victoria has not been over-hyped.  Wow!  What a lovely town.

For the first part of the day, we were dropped off downtown and given time to walk about two miles back to the bus.  Reminiscent of a European town, we wandered Fan Tan Alley (the smallest retail alley around), had lunch at the Seafood Grille (where their cooler was off, the beer was warm, but the food was good) and visited the Royal British Columbia Museum.  Unfortunately time did not allow us to spend any time at the museum, but we did take in the IMAX movie about Vikings.  The movie put into context some of the information we learned while we were in Denmark, so it was time well-spent.

Our seat at the Seafood Grille
A vegetable market outside Fan Tan Alley.  They had beautiful produce, some of which I had never heard.
Don stylin' his Tilley in front of the Tilley Store
One thing we wished we had done was to walk the grounds of the Empress Hotel.  I suspect they paled in comparison with the Butchart Gardens, which is where we spent the rest of the day, but we heard they were gorgeous.
The view from the Empress Hotel
One of hundreds of plantings in Victoria
We also enjoyed all of the street performers we saw.  One, a fire juggling unicyclist, was pretty fun, and another made of think of Kenneth, as he was strumming his guitar while playing his harmonica.  Maybe upon retirement, Kenneth could come here and supplement his income!

Oh The Things We Learn

At my age, one wouldn't think I would need instructions on how to use an elevator.  But I have not stayed at a high-end hotel in awhile . . . and maybe this is old technology . . . but the woman who checked me in made sure to show me how to use their elevators.

With this system, a person uses a keypad to designate the floor to which they are headed.  The key pad then directs them to a specific elevator - A, B, C, or D in this case - and within a few seconds, the elevator arrives.  Once inside, it only goes to the floors of those in the car.

No more teenagers hitting every single button to stop the elevator at every floor!  No more stopping for ghost guests on random floors!

Once we figured it out, we really liked it.  It seems to manage traffic well, though we have not seen it in action when there are many people trying to go up or down. 

We also were introduced to keys that just need to be held up to the door lock to gain entrance.  We knew how to use them, thankfully, because I would have been stumped otherwise.  

Guess we should stay in more "fancy" hotels.  We might learn something else.


I surely am glad I do not have to rely on ferries for my transportation to and from work.  Getting there an hour before the ferry leaves, riding in a noisy ship, then driving another thirty minutes to where I work . . . Yuk!

I am not certain many Vancouverites do that, but I have been led to believe that some do.

Today we took the ferry to Victoria, and although we had a great day, I am glad I do not have to do it every day.  I think I would rather fight the traffic on the east coast than have to deal with this!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Today we landed in Vancouver after a very easy set of flights.  Despite the delay from Wichita, we made our flight with enough time to spare that the agent let me head to the restroom before boarding.  He got an A!

We had no idea what to expect in Vancouver, but what we found is lovely.  Our hotel is in downtown, not too far from Coal Harbor where most of the cruise ships depart.  We were able to walk to the pier and enjoy a walk along the seashore.  The revitalized area allows for both bicycle and pedestrian traffic, it has information boards all along the walkway, and with plenty of trash containers, it is delightfully clean.

We asked two people for recommendations for seafood and when both gave us the same recommendation, we went there.  Coast is its name.  Although it is a little pricey, it is worth it.  I had an ahi tuna, but I really wanted what Don was having as sides - his was a hot potato salad with a vegie.  Mine was a creamy farro with a pea and lentil sauce.  But I did not say anything because I figured it was tacky to ask for substitutions.  Thank goodness I didn't.  The combination of tastes with the tuna was exquisite.

Behind me, Don watched the bustling kitchen.  I could hear, but not see, the activity, but I got the idea that many very fine people were working there.  Don also observed that there appeared to be one waiter for every two people:  three different people filled my water glass, yet we never felt overwhelmed by waiters.  We really wanted to order dessert, but neither of us had room.  We will be back for the Strawberry-Lemon Mousse Cake!

After dinner we walked outside near the hotel, looking at two different gorgeous water fountains, finding the Deloitte building, and checking out the Anglican Cathedral right across the street.  Vancouver's moderate climate gives plants the perfect environment to thrive . . . and they do.  It is gorgeous around this city!

Monday, July 14, 2014


Most gardeners have a favorite flower or two in their garden.  For some it might be a hydrangea.  Although I love them, mine do not seem to love me.  Three years now and they have not bloomed yet.

For some it might be the iris.  Iris are lovely.  They have a special place in my heart.  But they do not last long, and when they wilt they drip on my table.  So although iris are toward the top of my list, I am not sure they are my favorites.

And then there is the Stargazer.  The Stargazer Lily.  It is a gentle thing, prone to being knocked down by hail or wind or . . . dogs.  Its fragrance is like heaven, when it survives and blooms.  Many years we only have the opportunity to see two or three blooms.

But this year is different.  We have had no hail, and although the winds have been high they have not been strong enough to knock them down.  Babs has not been over near them to knock them down.  And last week, the Stargazers began to bloom.  And they bloomed and bloomed.  

Enjoy the Stargazer Lily.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Schlitterbahn Babs

I was in the basement, quietly doing my bookkeeping while Don was upstairs with Babs.  I heard the baby gate open, a slight stumble, and then nothing.

"Don?"  I said.

No answer.

"Don?"  I asked, a little more concerned.

No answer.

Thinking the worst, I rushed to the stairs, wondering what had happened to him.

No Don.  Nothing, except little Babs standing at the bottom of the stairs, somewhat confused.

Now how had that happened?  The baby gate was closed.  Had she gone through the wooden stair rails?  No, I had not heard a thunk.

Then I heard water and realized Don was in the shower, so he wouldn't have known what happened.

I think, but I do not know for sure, that somehow Babs pushed on the baby gate just enough to cause it to open.  Then she either fell or tried to hop down the stairs and instead slid head and feet first down the stairs.  All the way to the bottom.

I picked her up and hugged her, took her upstairs, put her down near her food, and she proceeded to eat.  A lot.  And more.  It must have scared something out of her.

Anyway, she is unscathed, to our relief.  But we are going to have to re-evaluate the baby gate.  We didn't think she could push it open . . . and she did!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Small Town 'Merica

On July 4 we went to Peabody, KS, for their fireworks display.  Certainly much different from the show in Malibu last year but no less impressive.  Just different!  And wonderful!

Although the "lake folks" had gone a number of times before, this was our first experience with the Peabody Fourth.  As we arrived, we realized it is a much bigger deal than we had expected.  First, we had to find a parking spot, which was not an easy thing to do.  Every side street was packed to the gills, but we did find a spot within a mile of the baseball stadium. 

At the gate, we should have purchased a button to get in . . . But although they had printed 3900 buttons, they were out.  That was a good sign that the event was to be well attended.  A ferris wheel and other carnival rides were in the park, and people were already reserving their spot for the big show.

We had no idea where to sit, but the Gaskills did.  Spectators were to sit inside the Peabody baseball stadium and in the infield;  the fireworks were discharged in the outfield and behind the outfield fence.  Yikes!  Much closer than I have ever been to.a large-scale fireworks show.

The local air became quite apparent with the commentary.  The announcer had a definite Wildcat bias, which came through several times.  He announced deaths within the community, as well as other important occurrences.  Various picture fireworks were placed in the outfield - a Jayhawk, a Wildcat, a WuShock, a windmill, and even a proposal!  I got the feeling that the proposal idea had never happened in the 92 years before, but I could be wrong.  Then between pictures, large fireworks graced the skies.

The finale was to the tune of the Battle of New Orleans.  Two cannons shot Roman Candles at each other, with hundreds of Lady Fingers going off between them.  Additional fireworks were going off above . . . 

And we were in the danger zone.  We were pelted with numerous pieces of cardboard, sand, and embers.  Several of us got "stuff" in our eyes, but it gradually came out.  I had to plug my ears and even close my eyes because it was so bright and loud.

At the end, the over 5000 people were delighted with the show.  An hour's worth of pyrotechnics . . . Not bad for small-town 'Merica!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Breakfast Strata Lorraine

It is not the usual place to get recipes, but I seem to like to find them in extraordinary places.  This time, rather than the Wall Street Journal, I used the Williams-Sonoma Catalog for this recipe.  Breakfast Strata Lorraine.

I tore it out of the catalog at Easter and finally took the time to make it for Kathy Dunlavy and Ginny Marti.  The ingredients are a little more expensive.  Gruyere cheese is not cheap, and I had never heard of batard bread.  The man at the store said it is bastard bread, 1/2 the size of a French loaf.  Don't know if that is really why it is called that, but . . . And the recipe takes a little more time, but it is not hard to make.  It will be included in our next tailgate breakfast, for sure!  And in case you are curious, here is the recipe:

2 T. olive oil
1 sliced yellow onion
Salt to taste + 1 t.
Ground pepper to taste
1 lb. spinach
1.5 pound loaf sweet batard bread (the recipe says with crusts removed, but I left them on), cut into 1"        squares and toasted until dry (I did not use that much bread . . . )
8 oz. diced ham
6 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated
10 eggs
2.5 c. half-and-half (because I did not want extra half and half left, I added milk to make the extra 1/2 c.)

1.  In large saute pan over medium heat, warm 1 T. oil.  Add onion; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl.  In the same pan using medium heat, warm 1/2 t. oil.  Add half of the spinach; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring until wilted, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to colander.  Repeat with the other 1/2 t. oil and remaining spinach.  Press out moisture.

2.  In large bowl, toss together bread cubes, onion, spinach, ham and cheese.  Transfer to 4-qt baking dish.  In bowl, beat together eggs, half-and-half, 1 t. salt and pepper, to taste.  Pour over bread mixture. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 2 - 16 hours.

3.  Preheat over to 350 F.  Remove plastic wrap; cover with lid or foil.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover; bake until top is browned and strata is cooked through, 40 - 50 minutes.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!