Monday Musings – It’s Civilized

Happy Monday ladies. We spent a glorious weekend exploring Victoria and will be driving up island tomorrow. We made the rounds at Munro Books, Murchie’s Tea Shop, The Irish Times Pub, and tons of other great spots. The strange thing is, we didn’t visit the Empress Hotel.

We’d had high tea there two summers ago, and while it was fantastic, we didn’t feel the need to repeat it.

Here are a few things on my mind this week:

Teatea and scone at Murchies

Everyone in my family drinks coffee. I would venture to say that several of them aren’t quite human until they’ve had their first or second cup in the morning. For me, it’s tea and I’m pretty particular about it. Darjeeling in the morning and Earl Grey, preferably as a London Fog, in the afternoon. We’ve been having afternoon tea and scones at Murchies more tmes than I can count this week. earl grey cream tea boxes

A London Fog is made with Earl Grey Tea and Vanilla so imagine my delight to fine this Earl Grey Cream tea with vanilla already in it. I may need another suitcase to get everything home with me later this month.display at Murchies tea shop

I could spend hours (oh wait, I did) wandering around a tea shop. All the gizmos and accountrements for tea just delight me.

This little Hedgehog Travel mug is so stinking cute. I found a rabbit one here online which made me think I might want an entire set. I am that person who still has the entire Beatrix Potter Set of books from when the kids were little:) I’ve always used tea bags but this trip is making me rethink using loose tea, and since my pot does have an inner basket… What do you use, loose or bags?



Good fish chowder is amazing. Outstanding fish chowder is worth going back for several times…and we did. The Red Fish Blue Fish Spicy Chowder is loaded with fish and veggies and satisfying enough to be an entire meal.cup of red fish blue fish chowder on dock in victoria

This one is from Red Fish Blue Fish on Victoria Harbour. When I taste something this amazing I immediately hunt for the recipe online. Here it is:


1 can (341 ml/12 oz) corn kernels

30 ml (2 tbsp) canola/olive oil blend

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) finely chopped onions

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) diced carrots

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) diced celery

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) diced parboiled potatoes

50 ml (1/4 cup) crushed garlic

10 ml (2 tsp) toasted ground coriander

5 ml (1 tsp) toasted ground cumin

5 ml (1 tsp) sea salt

5 ml (1 tsp) pepper

1 can (398 ml/14 oz) crushed tomatoes

3 cans (each 400 ml/14 oz) coconut milk

125 ml (1/2 cup) sweet chili sauce

50 ml (1/4 cup) chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped

30 ml (2 tbsp) hot sauce

30 ml (2 tbsp) Worcestershire sauce

Leaves from 1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced

Sustainably harvested white fish or seafood (such as cod, halibut, shrimp, scallops, lobster), cut into bite-size pieces

Cilantro leaves and sliced green onions, for garnish


Drain corn, reserving liquid. In a large pot over medium-high, heat oil. Add corn, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper. Saute until vegetables are soft. Add reserved corn liquid, tomatoes, coconut milk, chili sauce, chipotles, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and minced cilantro. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in fish; simmer for another 5 minutes or until fish is just cooked. Serve garnished with cilantro leaves and green onions.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: “Eat St.: Recipes from the Tastiest, Messiest, and Most Irresistible Food Trucks” by James Cunningham (Penguin, 2013).

Double Double

women wearing denim jacket and blue jeans on dock in victoria harbor

So here I am back in double denim and this time they’re the same blue! Fashion faux pas? Not to me but as they say, you do you, and I’ll do me. I spotted Oprah wearing a matching denim jacket and jeans on her magazine cover a few months ago and loved the look. So if it’s good enough for Oprah, it is certainly good enough for me:)

Are you enjoying fall weather where you are?


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  1. I love tea! It would be great to look around a shop just for tea. Don’t believe I ever have. I mostly drink green tea but really love them all. Not a coffee drinker at all. Like your all denim outfit!!!

  2. I’m saving this post and comments. It’s a treasure trove of information and delights and brings back fond memories of trips to Victoria, B.C. ! I’m now residing in Hayden/Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, formerly Palm Desert/Indian Wells, CA and oh so happy to be here! P.S. gotta have that jeans jacket!

  3. Jennifer, you look great! And, thanks for beautiful photo of the tea shop. Gosh I would love to browse through it. I drink loose tea, mostly organic green tea. I buy all my tea from Upton Tea Importers online—their organic Lung Ching is my absolute favorite. I’m sipping a mug as I write this to you. Hugs to you—I’ve so enjoyed reading about your trip.

  4. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Victoria forty-six years ago. It was December and snowed while we were there. All the tea and china shops were so warm and quaint with the snow falling outside the windows. You have brought back wonderful memories. Now I long to return!

  5. I love Victoria! Would move there in a minute if it was possible.(Texas weather and politics can get a person down. Lol) – I am trying to cut back on caffeine, and have just discovered the London Fog which is wonderful! Will look for the Earl Grey with vanilla. Thanks for info!

  6. Loose leaf drinker here. I was once told that bagged tea was the sweeping dust off the tea warehouse floor. I get my high quality tea from Gong Fu Tea in Des Moines Iowa. They sell it in their shop and also online.

      1. Yes about the dust! After reading about that possibility, I switched to organic black loose tea. I was pleased to find out that the loose tea tasted much fresher! I have never looked back.

  7. What a happy post! I loved it. Victoria is enchanting and I can just visualize it and think of some trips I made there. Thanks for the memories!
    p.s. I love Beatrix Potter books and memorabilia too.

  8. Jennifer-Thank you so much for sharing your adventures in Victoria and especially your time at Murchie’s. I was there way back in 2004 and that day has been in my heart ever since. I am a tea gal but find with quarantine measures in place (working from home) I drink more coffee. Murchie’s was such a special moment for me-that “I think this must be heaven on earth “feeling. My husband was at a business conference, held at The Fairmount Empress, so I was free to wander around Victoria. Once I found Murchie’s, I went no further! I will be there again someday I hope. One delightful treat I brought home was a loose leaf tea blend called “Canadian Breakfast”-a mix of malty Assam, Earl Grey, and Keemun teas-absolutely wonderful. I make my own now! So enjoyed this post, thanks again!

  9. I am a coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and evening kind of gal. Early Grey or Lady Grey teas are my fav. When I’m lazy, use a tea bag; when feeling more into the experience use loose tea. Sad that many of the David’s tea shops closed down. Here in Calgary, its unusually warm +24C. Its gorgeous! I agree with you: High Tea at the Empress is a lovely experience but once is enough at that price point!!

  10. I have been known to haunt Murchie’s stores myself from time to time. I moved to Vancouver from Montreal 45 years ago to work at Vancouver General and found Murchies to be a comfortable find. Their coffee is quite good as well. When I moved back east to Toronto my luggage was full of Murchies product! It’s a go to every time I’ve gone back and one can order online…. Just saying..!
    Nothing wrong with the “Canadian Tuxedo” (matching denim jeans and jacket)!! Looks great!

  11. I’m a coffee in the morning but tea tea tea in the afternoon, either loose or bags : Ginger or Jasmine depending on how I feel. Any tea with a hint of something special!
    You look adorable in your jean on jean outfit! Love it!
    I’ll try your chowder recipe this weekend! Yummmy.

  12. Ah, jeez, I can’t tell you how much I miss Victoria! I live in Port Angeles, Washington, and usually Victoria is our city, but now we can’t get there because the border is closed. Munro’s is great (although we also have a great book store, Port Book and News). Wonderful wandering along the waterfront and great sushi at Gozen. Sigh. No Salt Spring Island this year either.

  13. Oh I would love to browse in a real tea shop! My grandparents emigrated from England. My Aunt loved to do high teas at her house. My mom brought me China teacups when she visited England and I like to collect them along with teapots and sugar/creamer sets. I’m a coffee girl, but do like to break out the special pots and teacups. Makes me think of my mom and aunt who are both gone now. Love your columns.

  14. Always loose leaf tea from Harney and Sons in Connecticut. I mix my own breakfast tea with 2 parts CTC Assam black, 1 part green and 1 part jasmine. Wonderful combination! I love the Earl Grey Cream, too, and I have made my own London Fog. Love tea shops!!!

  15. I was born in Scotland, so I grew up drinking loose leaf tea – Orange Pekoe I think. Now I have a coffee in the morning, and in the cooler weather tea with a cookie mid afternoon. As for blueberry scones, that was my quarantine baking favourite. High tea in Edinburgh is on my bucket list.

  16. I’m so glad to see that you not only visited but featured some of the beauties of Victoria. And I’d recognize a scrumptious Murchies scone anywhere!! I hope our citizens and merchants were friendly and welcoming. And your outfit is “just right” for the West Coast vibe! Deanna in Victoria

  17. I’m a coffee in the morning and then tea afternoon and evening. I really need that jolt of caffeine to get me in the Get Up and Go attitude.

    I felt the same way as you about Tea at the Empress. Once was enjoyable. I haven’t been since they renovated but did hear it’s not the same. Correct me if I’m wrong anyone?

    I never wear denim of the same hue but you’re living out of a suitcase with a limited wardrobe so completely understand. Besides, you look cute so it must work. There are just too many rules we are asked to follow. I say follow what suits your fancy.

  18. Your outfit looks GREAT!

    Oh how I miss getting out to explore new places and stores! I still go to my local stores for things such as groceries but I limit even those trips and I times them to be with as little foot traffic as possible.

    I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over and to be able to get out and ENJOY browsing in new stores once again!

  19. I am loving fall and keeping busy.
    Yesterday I made and preserved tomato soup using 15 lbs of fresh tomatoes and it took all day. A lot of work but tastes good.
    I have found a lady in Vernon that sells teas. Here is her instagram cha_chai_tea she know everything about tea and a lovely lady. I order tea from her all the time, been to her place 3 times for tea tasting parties… you would love it!
    Enjoy the rest of your time in BC and with family.
    What we have done with my cousin and his wife is a virtual dinner on Saturday nights when we can. They live on The lower mainland and us in the Okanagan, we plan a dinner taking turns, set our table with fresh flowers and pretty placemats and napkins, we plate our planned dinners for 7, open a bottle of wine and enjoy dinner virtually with our iPads on FaceTime . We are approximately the same age and have similar interests! It works for us.

  20. We have 2 sons now living in Victoria, so drive out every year for a month. One year we were lucky enough to find an Airbnb condo that was situated above Fisherman’s Wharf. From our fifth floor suite, we had views of the inner harbour where we watched the float planes and the ferries come in. We could also see the mountains in Washington and the lights of the legislative building at night. We’ve never been able to stay there again but we sure enjoyed that spot! I enjoyed hearing about all of the places that you visited and the recipe for that delicious fish chowder. Thanks for your upbeat blog!

  21. Oh the memories. We spent an entire day with an amazing pedi bike driver that knew so much history in Victoria. It was the best. She stopped and waited for us anywhere we wanted. Anyway, I am sad that Davids Tea has closed, because that is where I would spend way too much on loose tea. I would even make my own mixes at home with different flavours. There are tea shops in some towns a few hours drive and I will make the drive when I am out of options. That travel mug is so cute, but I have found that the ceramic ones get really hot at the start and not as good as the thermal ones. I have one from Davids that has a strainer insert that brews it then you just take that out. I looks like you are getting all the best from your excursions. Have fun.

  22. I’m hoping you remember the name of the store that had the blue hearts teapot in your photo? I collect teapots and have a thing for hearts!!

    1. I believe that was Murchies in Victoria, British Columbia. It is cute! I wonder if they have it with red hearts. 🤔

  23. Fall here in Palm Desert means a high of 107 today! Very surreal sometimes for this East coast girl. It feels like I’m always on vacation in a tropical resort somewhere; played golf yesterday like we do most every day now. When the sun sets, the temps fall. Our mornings are low 70’s and it hits the high at 3. No whining or complaining, however, since COVID I’ve been able to carry on with exercise and golf. Victoria looks and sounds beautiful and when this all passes we’ll make the trip!

  24. Love Murchies! I have only been to the store in Victoria once & was in heaven. I drink both bagged & loose teas but prefer loose. And that’s always what I order from Murchies.
    I think your double denim outfit looks great – I would never think it’s a fashion faux pas.

  25. It is Spring here Down Under, so I have been spending most of my time gardening and tidying up our front yard before our new instant lawn is laid . Our previous one had a bug infestation and died. I love coffee, but am a copious tea drinker. Fortnum and Masons Orange Pekoe is my favourite. Have been experimenting with various herbal teas as well, but some truly look like a mixture of lawn clippings and compost. I use loose leaf tea either brewing a pot of tea or (with herbal tea) place the leaves in a small immerser inside the cup, let it stew for several minutes, then remove it.

  26. Jennifer, how do you get your bangs “chunky”? Mine end up looking so uniform, like a school girl’s. Yours are so much more sophisticated. Thx for your response and hopefully updating my fringe😺

    1. LOL, I’m glad they’re not a wreck, I chopped these myself last week. I hold them straight between my fingers, then angle the scissors straight up into the bang. Sort of making points…am I making sense?

  27. Reading your posts is bringing back a lot of memories. We missed our annual trip to Tofino this year because it involves a long flight. Although I am a coffee addict, I am drinking more afternoon tea with the arrival of fall. I order Tea at the Empress tea from the Fairmont store., It’s not the same being at the Empress ( which was a special experience) but it is delicious and brings back special memories.
    Victoria is lovely and I am glad you are enjoying all it has to offer.

  28. I’m in Hot Springs NC at a B&B! First outing in 6months! The inn, Mountain Magnolia, is very beautiful, clean and cautious…distancing breakfast guests and masking!
    It’s Beautiful here with just hints of color. Today we’re hiking so no fashion except comfort in hiking boots!

  29. Jennifer – I’m a fellow tea only drinker. Heartily recommend that you try loose leaf tea. The flavor will surprise you. Not sure why, but it is a more satisfying process each morning to make a pot this way than dangle a tea bag in a pot or cup. Also, just as wine tastes better from a good wine glass, tea tastes better from a thin China cup. No shit, it really does! Recommendation for your earl grey adventures….mariage frere Paris earl grey. OMG