Archives for category: Photo

belleville on the water
(my favourite photo from the weekend – houses along the waterfront)

During my splendid getaway to Niagara-on-the-lake, one of my companions mentioned Picton, Ontario as a place to visit, particularly for their abundance of homemade jam. After a quick Google search, not only did I find places to buy jam, I stumbled upon the Great Canadian Cheese Festival!

great canadian cheese festival
cheese
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three generations
(me, my mom, my mom’s mom – can you tell we’re related? *wink*)

Last weekend, my cousin got married (I tell you, it’s wedding season!). It was a lovely small, family affair that took place in downtown Toronto.

The ceremony took place at The Toronto Wedding Chapel, which I didn’t even know existed. When I hear “wedding chapel” I think of crazy folks who get hitched at an Elvis themed room but it was a beautiful, tasteful, bright space.
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local winery field

When it comes to travel, I’ve always been drawn towards far off and exotic places. I’ve lived in Canada nearly all my live and only once flirted with the thought of travelling across Canada and seeing the great wonders of my country (not counting the work trips I had to Edmonton and Vancouver this year!). The trip never panned out and still, the idea still only sometimes lingers in my mind.

That said, I’ve been to Niagara Falls many times, particularly when relatives visit from distant lands, but I’ve never explored Niagara-on-the-lake. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about it and after spending a weekend there, I now know why it’s nicknamed “the loveliest town in Canada”. Tucked away in the southern part of Ontario, in the Niagara region, it is a fantastic weekend getaway from the city.

The weekend called for rain and but we set off anyway, fingers crossed for some sun since our plans included a bike tour around the wineries.

We smartly opted to stay at Globetrotter’s bed and breakfast. We were met with luscious landscaping and an inviting porch, wood interiors with exposed beam, and charming rooms peppered with worldly souvenirs.

globetrotter b&b porch
globetrotters b&b

The hosts, Donna and Fernando, showed incomparable hospitality (and some mean skills in the kitchen!). She is the editor for Dreamscapes, a travel and lifestyle magazine in the Globe and Mail and, he is an equality well traveled hospitality manager at a local hotel. Together, they make the perfect team.

After a quick rest, we walked to the local bike rental store, Zoom then took off to explore the wineries and sample local wine. We visited 5 altogether: Stratus , Caroline Cellars, Pondview Winery, Frogpond Farm Winery, and Mary Nissen

I don’t proclaim to be a wine connoisseur by any means but I definitely enjoyed being able to sample wine and having someone there to explain the nuances in taste to me. I found that I had an affinity towards sweeter wines, and ice wine.

ice wine shots
Ice wine shooters in chocolate – so delicious!

garbage bag poncho
The garbage bag poncho = solution to the rain

sheep
Sheep!

We must have biked for about 4 hours (in the rain) and were completely soaked but it was hilariously fun. A hearty meal at Strewn
was a great way to end an tiring day.

We woke up with sore limbs and butts but trooped to the town to take a peek at the local shops and for the infamous Cow’s ice cream.

brunch
Our fabulous brunch the next morning in the sun room.

sun room brunch
A perfectly cooked egg on smoked beef and a biscuit with hollandaise sauce, made by Fernando!

Kennedy's gelato
Scrumptious treats at Kennedy’s gelato, a new gelato joint owned by the nicest woman!

niagara apothecary
Pretty vintage bottles at the Niagara Apothecary.

After a quick lunch at the Old Winery Restaurant, we said farewell to Niagara-on-the-lake, with a promise to come back soon!

flowers

I’m on a roll here with knocking things off my goals list. After planting herbs and veggies a few weeks ago, I’ve decided to take the next step. I’ve never been much of a gardener, but I love the idea of fresh, colourful flowers to welcome people into a home.

I stumbled upon a family garden centre over the weekend while out having lunch with friends and decided to buy my goods there as opposed to the garden centres at big box stories. My purchases were inspired by a sun-colourant palette and included a strawberry plant, pansies, and marigolds.

flower garden
Lining everything up to be planted

The finished product
The finished product

yellow flower

It was a perfect weekend to plant flowers. We had rain with bursts of sunshine!

While I was in Cincinnati for my cousin’s wedding, I had a little bit of time to explore the city. Sadly, there isn’t much to do in Cincinnati!

When I got there on Saturday morning, I met a lot of family members and we went out for lunch in Kentucky at Newport on the levee, which is just over the Ohio river, about 5 minutes from downtown Cincinnati. There, we grabbed a bite to eat, at Brothers. One of their signature dishes was Beer Battered Cheese Curds so we had as an appetizer to share. Not terribly impressive. (Can’t beat the real cheese curds of Quebec!)

The day after the wedding, the family met for brunch and then set off for Chicago to get back to work. I had some time to kill before my flight early the next morning so my day was spent shopping (because there was nothing else to do on a Sunday afternoon!) and wandering.

My hotel was right next to Fountain Square, which is probably one of the most happening places in city. There was a Cinco de Mayo celebration going on, with lively Mexican music, dance, food, and lots of activities, including a llama petting zoo!

cinco de mayo fountain square
llama
I sampled a seafood ceviche, accompanied by a tall glass of pineapple juice. My cousins and I also shared a churro.

seafood ceviche
I then hit up a Macy’s and a TJ Maxx and score some great deals on workout clothes, a curling iron, and jeans! And finally, met up with my cousin and new cousin-in-law for dinner. But not before we ate more cupcakes and drank more champagne!

tulips
tulip
It’s my mommy’s birthday today so I picked up bunches of tulips at the store today to bring her some cheer! Something about fresh cut, vibrant flowers (especially happy, yellow ones!) makes me smile and I sure hope they made my mom smile, too!

Speaking of fresh blossoms, I finally put to use the seeds my friend, Ming, gave me to start my herb garden. I bought soil mix, recommended by the person in the garden centre, and a couple of self-watering planters and biodegradable planter cups from the dollar store. (I don’t think I needed the individual mini pots but they were too cute).

herb pots
gardening, herb garden

Soon, I hope I will be adding some zest to my dishes with fresh basil, parsley, spicy peppers, and chives!

The rest of the day was lovely – beautiful weather, tasty birthday dinner, cake, and lots of time with the ‘rents!

Happy long weekend!

tulips

Vietnamese spring rolls with peanut sauce

Spring? Spring rolls? Get it? I think it’s probably the closest I’m going to get to spring in the next couple weeks or so. I mean, how can it be that it snowed today? Isn’t it April and shouldn’t we be digging out our sunhats and swimsuits? I simply cannot wait until spring is sprung!

Even with the unpredictable weather, this weekend was a great one!

I checked out the Yoga Show with a friend, followed by dinner at Fresh (bbq burger with quinoa onion rings were delish!). Saturday morning was a fitness filled one with BodyAttack, BodyFlow and BodyFlow (round 2), then a night of dancing. Today started off wonderfully with a 45+ member BodyFlow class. The afternoon was filled with tying up lots of loose ends from switching jobs and some time in the kitchen making spring rolls!
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cupcake army

At last! This weekend, I acquired the critical assets to complete my mission of a mini cupcake revolution. Gone are the days of full-sized muffins and cupcakes. Bite-sized is where it’s at. I always find that my eyes are bigger than my stomach and half way through a muffin or cupcake, I realized that I only wanted half of it. So this is the perfect solution.

On numerous occasions I’ve looked for these mini cupcake pans at my local Superstore but they were always sold out! Today, I found a whole stack of them AND they were on sale. Score!

I used two recipes and tweaked them a bit to suit the ingredients I had at home – the dead simple chocolate cake and Roxanne’s Banana Bread (from a colleague at my old workplace).

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I survived week two at my new job and can I admit that I love it even more each day? Perhaps it’s the honeymoon period (or the fact that they feed us breakfast and lunch) but I’m looking forward to what else is in store!

Anyway, New York seems like so long ago but I wanted to share my time there because it was great and I have tons of photos!

I stayed at The Standard, a boutique hotel known for it’s hip interior, great food, and celebrity sightings. It’s located in the trendy Meatpacking District , an area unfamiliar to me (the last time I went, we were just south of Central Park).

the standard hotelthe standard exteriorthe standard bathroom the standard bathroom
(Notice how the massive tub doesn’t have a door, and all that separates it from the bedroom is a pane of glass? Yeah, that’s right! Kinky!)

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nyc by night
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
Theres nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
The lights will inspire you,
Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York…

New York City is one of those places that I feel like I can visit over and over and there will always be something new to see and do. My trip was fabulous and far exceeded my expectations. It was the perfect mix of newness, education, exploration, and fun (the lovely weather didn’t hurt either!).

Monday morning was nerve wracking for me – my first day at my new job. As vain as it is, I fretted over picking out my outfit for the day! You can never take back that first impression. It’s like picking out your outfit for the first day of school. You want to make sure you fit in with the culture, are work appropriate, and look approachable.

first day of work
(shirt from Jacob, sweater from Jacob, skirt from Zara, necklace from Walmart, boots from Aldo)

My first day was jam packed with orientation stuff – introductions, building tours, social ice breaker games – and then the rest of the week just flew by and I was still LOVING it. I can’t wait to go to work tomorrow at my normal office (did I just say I can’t wait to go to work?).

More photos and such on my New York trip to come!