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Month: May 2017

Friday Five – Food, Drink, and all kinds of Art

Friday Five – Food, Drink, and all kinds of Art

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday Five…5 things that are bringing me bliss this week!

1. LCBO Food & Drink Magazine

Our household eagerly awaits the release of every issue, and the Early Summer edition is now available.  Chock full of recipes, entertaining ideas, new products and recommendations in wine, beer and spirits, I usually read it cover to cover!  This one was no exception.  I’m already planning to try making the Pumpkin Seed and Chili Crusted Fish Fillets on the cover.  There is also some interesting takes on shandies and sangria recipes that caught my eye.

You can grab a copy of this free magazine at your local LCBO, or read the digital version online (or download the app to read on your device).

P.S. Our latest shopping trip (to grab the magazine, of course!) netted many of the new coolers!  So far I’ve tried Cabana Coast Refreshments Moscow Mule, and Goslings Dark & Stormy, both featuring ginger beer…very yummy!  It’s shaping up to be a great summer on the patio!

2. Elspeth Mclean

This Australian artist, who now makes Canada’s west coast her home, has gained the title of viral internet sensation for her Mandala stones.  Each one is individually picked from the beach, and painstakingly painted, dot by dot.  The results?  Stunning!

You can check out her creative process in the video below.

The only way to get your hands on one is through her Etsy shop.  They are only released once a month, with a prior announcement, so you know when to be ready…they disappear within minutes!  As the artist herself puts it…”good things come to those who wait (and keep trying)!”  In the mean time, you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

3. G&G Signature Designs

This local husband and wife team in Baden make custom hand-painted signs and home decor.  They also offer DIY Sign Workshops!  You gather up a few friends, pick a project design, and they bring the party to you!


Check out their designs on Facebook, and contact them for more information!  I think one of the Canada flags might find it’s way to my backyard fence!

4. Red House Patio Party Giveaway

I’ll admit, this Waterloo restaurant has been on my “must try” list for quite some time, but I hope to get there and do a review soon!

In the mean time, check out this awesome giveaway!


5. StreetART at Mac’s

See this empty wall?  This is the Mac’s store in my neighbourhood.

What they are about to do with it is just awesome.  See below…

“Waterloo Regional Police Service, in partnership with Crime Stoppers of Waterloo Region and Mac’s Convenience Stores, are calling on the community to help take part in an exciting new project entitled StreetART at Mac’s.

This project, to be completed in June, is an opportunity for police to work alongside youth in our community to build positive relationships while helping prevent crime.

On June 5, youth are invited to come out to a Kitchener Mac’s Convenience Store, located at 192 Activa Avenue, to spray paint an outdoor wall with professional street artist, Magic “Finnga” Wong. On June 6 and June 7, Wong will work his magic to create a beautiful mural that reflects Waterloo Region. On June 8, during the kick-off to the annual Waterloo Regional Crime Stoppers Conference, participants, media and community members will be invited back for the reveal.

Other services that have taken part in this program, including the Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police Service, Peel Regional Police Service, Thunder Bay Police Service, Barrie Police Service and Ottawa Police Service, have reported a noticeable reduction in crime at their mural locations.

During the month of May, Waterloo Regional Police will be accepting submissions of drawings, sketches and paintings from members of the community that depict what Waterloo Region means to them. The winner will have their picture included in the mural. You can tag us with your sketch on Facebook (@waterlooregionalpolice), Twitter (@WRPSToday) or Instagram (officialwrps).
You can also e-mail your submission to Cherri.greeno@wrps.on.ca.

The funding for this initiative is being covered through an educational study grant from Harvard University.”

You can check out the short documentary on the StreetART program here…

I can’t wait to see the process and the final product for the project at my local Mac’s!

Well, that’s it for this week’s edition of the Friday Five!  What’s been great in your world this week?   Leave a comment below, or find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

 

Friday Five – Blue Mountain Getaway

Friday Five – Blue Mountain Getaway

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday Five…5 things that are bringing me bliss this week!  Something different again this week.  For Mother’s Day last week, I spoiled myself with a couple days getaway up to the Blue Mountain region, alone, sans kiddos.  I thought I would share with you my top 5 from that trip, with lots of pictures!

Now, I have to begin with a caveat…I am not really an outdoor adventure type of person.  No zip-lining or mountain climbing, no sailing or off-road biking.  Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time outside, and I enjoy hiking, scenic lookouts, soaking up the sun, listening to the birds. But the usual adventure activities that tempt people to the Blue Mountain region are not what draws me there.  My bliss is in the quiet, the sounds of nature, slowing down to enjoy the view.

This is my second annual trip to Collingwood, and I repeated many of the things I did last year, for exactly the same reasons…bliss!  I’m really thinking retirement would look good up that way.  I could spend spring, summer and fall exploring everything there is to see and do, and then rent out my place to some snow-loving adventurers for the winter, while I escape to warmer climates!

So, without further ado, here is my top 5 things I love about Blue Mountain region!

1. Thornbury

Follow Grey County Road 13 north, through the picturesque Beaver Valley, right to the lake and you’ll end up at Thornbury Harbour, just one of the sights in this small town.

Bliss at the beach!

I did spend quite a bit of time with my toes in the sand, just enjoying the perfect blue sky, listening to the waves lapping at the shore, collecting a few rocks, and taking pictures.

Little River Park at Thornbury Harbour
Boats getting ready for summer!

The Georgian Trail, a 34km long hiking and biking trail that runs from Collingwood to Meaford, passes right through Thornbury, along the lakefront.  While I was there at the beach park, a group of senior women were just loading up their bikes after a cycling excursion.  I also spotted a few fishermen where the Beaver River meets Lake Huron, and just a bit further upstream is the Thornbury Fishway, a “fish ladder” that allows trout and salmon to “jump” upstream to spawn.

But this charming little town also boasts a surprising number of restaurants and shops.  Some of my favourites…The Cheese Gallery, Sincerely Yours Boutique, and Loft Gallery.  It was really hard to narrow down the choices of where to go for lunch.

2. Miso Hot

My craving for sushi won out when it came to lunch picks, so off I went to try Miso Hot in Thornbury.  This fusion restaurant blends Korean and Japanese favourites for a unique take on Asian cuisine.

Miso Hot, 21 Arthur St, Thornbury
Simple, yet elegant space, featuring local artwork
Bulgogi Lunch Bento Box

The lunch special options, served bento style, are an incredible value.  Served with miso soup, green salad and choice of 6pc sushi roll, it is the perfect combination, especially for folks like me who have trouble making up their mind!  I chose a true fusion, the Bulgogi Lunch…Korean style sliced beef stir fried with veggies and sweet marinade.  I paired it with the spicy crab roll, and a serving of hot sake to drink.  A second lunch ordered to go, the Maki Lunch, 8pc Dynamite Roll and 6pc California Roll, served as an excellent dinner later that night!

3. Craigleith Manor Bed and Breakfast

Located in a quiet neighbourhood minutes from Scandinave Spa, Blue Mountain Resort and the town of Collingwood, with direct access to the Georgian Trail behind the property, Craigleith Manor Bed and Breakfast is the perfect home base for your getaway.

Upon arrival, you are encouraged to treat the home like your own.  Automatic keyless entry with your personalized door code allow you to come and go as you please. Hosts Guy and Craig do make an effort to greet guests in person, depending on time of arrival, to give you a tour and answer any questions you might have.  Gracious and knowledgeable, it is clear how much they take pride in their business and providing the ultimate guest experience.  They have exquisite decorating taste and attention to detail!

The main floor is open and spacious, with a two-story entryway.  Here you’ll find a cozy reading corner with desk, and a library of information on local attractions and restaurants (each one taste tested by your hosts, who are happy to help make dining reservations for you).

Two-story entryway with library of local attraction info and restaurant menus

The living room, complete with fireplace, sectional sofa and elegant chairs, invites you in, with soft jazz music playing in the background throughout the day.  Guests are encouraged to cozy up by the fire with a glass of wine, read a book or enjoy a magazine.  Large picture windows and sliding glass doors look out over the beautifully landscaped backyard and deck (which are scheduled for even more enhancements this year).

The kitchen and dining room round out the main floor space. Guests are encouraged to use the space for dining outside of breakfast hours.  Real dishes and cutlery, as well as wine glasses and placemats are offered.  There is also a microwave, and a guest fridge off the kitchen.  As a solo traveller, I don’t dine out often, so this was a welcome luxury for my take-out dinners or enjoying wine and cheese al fresco on the deck at sunset!

Dining room
Open and modern chef’s kitchen

Speaking of dining, the breakfast here is an outstanding feature included in your stay.  Each night a menu is left for you to mark your selection for the next morning, including your preferred time.  Locally sourced ingredients, and home-made touches abound in the ever-changing selections, including hot and cold options.  Each dish is skillfully prepared by your host and chef Guy, and beautifully presented.

Sample of morning breakfast options
Breakfast bar with fresh coffee, juices, yogurt, home-made granola, fresh fruit salad and jams
My breakfast…eggs my way, maple bacon, homefries, and toast

This adults-only accommodation has three rooms, impeccably decorated with modern and luxurious touches.  Ensuite bathrooms feature in-floor heating, bathrobes, and all the essentials.  LED TV with cable, Netflix, and Wi-Fi mean you’re never without technology.

My second visit was just as blissful as last year, and I again chose the Birch Suite.

Super comfortable queen bed
Modern ensuite with spa-like feel
A little humour for your reading pleasure
Flat screen LED TV smartly hidden in the closet
The view from the aptly named Birch Room

Although my 2-night stay was short, it was the perfect way to kick back, relax, and enjoy the quiet solitude offered at Craigleith Manor.  I hope to keep making annual (or more frequent) visits to the area, and when I do, you’ll find me here…

Season 2 of Sense8 on Netflix, after a day at the spa

4. Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain

In keeping with my theme of quiet relaxation, you just can’t beat a day at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain.  Nestled on 25 acres of land, surrounded by trees, you are invited to relax in the heart of nature.  The premiere experience is the Scandinavian Baths, following a circuit of body warming, cooling and relaxation.  There are a number of different options for each around the property, including hot baths, eucalyptus steam room, saunas, cold plunge pools, solariums, hammocks, and muskoka chairs.

While the baths are the main draw, it can get quite busy, with long waitlists, particularly on weekends and holidays.  One way to guarantee your spot is to book a massage with one of the Registered Massage Therapists on site.  A variety of massage services are available, including couples massage, hot stone, and of course, swedish relaxation.  Access to the baths is included (as well as bathrobe rental), and reservations can be made up to 4 months in advance.  If you have extended health benefits coverage through your workplace, you can claim your massage, making your day at Scandinave free!

Silence is the rule, so talking is discouraged.  You also won’t find any wi-fi, and cellphones are not permitted.  The spa is open year-round, giving you the opportunity to enjoy nature in all it’s splendour; spring, summer, fall and winter!  A bistro in the main building provides light lunches of sandwiches, salads, beverages and snacks.

One word of warning…bring sunscreen!  The spring sun caught many people (myself included) off guard, and after a day spent soaking in the baths, enjoying the great outdoors, you might find yourself a little sunburnt!

5. Harbourview Park

At the water’s edge in the town of Collingwood, you’ll find Harbourview Park.  The eastern end of the Georgian Trail, this community park boasts many features, sure to tempt those of all ages and walks of life!  A boardwalk trail winds through the park’s tranquil wetlands, where you can spot an array of wildlife.  The Arboretum, a botanical park with several species of trees, bushes and plants is surrounded by winding trails, both paved and natural.  You can find many hikers and bikers enjoying the scenery.

My stop was the Collingwood Labyrinth, an 11-circuit walking path modelled after the famous Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth in France.  This peaceful walk promotes rest, relaxation and reflection.  A perfect end to a blissful few days away!

Well, that’s it for this week’s edition of the Friday Five!  I hope you enjoyed my favourites from the Blue Mountain region. Have you travelled to the area?  Got any favourites you’d like to share?  Leave a comment below, or find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Friday Five – Charity in honour of Mother’s Day!

Friday Five – Charity in honour of Mother’s Day!

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday Five…5 things that are bringing me bliss this week! This week I am doing something a little different. In honour of Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, and since I struggle with what to buy for my mom, I thought I’d share what I did this year…a donation in my mom’s name!

Here are five worthy causes that have crossed my path recently, that I believe in and support. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of them directly relate to moms, kids and families. Please consider donating to one of these, or share your favourite causes that are close to your heart in the comments below.

1. Kenya Spare a Camera

Meet my friend Norm, a former Kitchener native who now makes his home in California.  He’s the one in the middle, surrounded by those adorable, smiling faces!

In 2010, he had the opportunity to spend a month at Cura Orphanage in Kenya, home to children who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.  While helping to raise much needed funds for the orphanage, he also shared his photography hobby with the children.  He came with donated cameras and taught them the basics of photography.  Most had never seen or used a camera, some had never seen pictures of themselves before!

Check out these beautiful images captured by Norm, and by the children of Cura.

Another visit in 2011, and it’s hard not to feel the emotion in this reunion…

Norm is off on a jet plane again, headed for Cura this week, donated cameras in tow, and I can’t wait to see the pictures and posts from this trip!  You can follow on his website, Kenya Spare a Camera, or Facebook group.

I encourage you to read Norm’s post from Mother’s Day 2011, and please consider making a donation.  And if you have any old cameras you’re not using, consider donating those too!  They will definitely be used to capture the bliss found in this remarkable place!

2. Charity: Water

I’ve posted about how much I am enjoying the audio book version of Danielle LaPorte’s White Hot Truth (release date May 16!), and I am so happy that proceeds from the sales of the book are going to two important charities; V-day and CharityWater.org.  Check out the video by clicking on the link above.  See how you can help change lives with clean water, especially this Mother’s Day in honour of moms.

3. Mary’s Place

Mary’s Place is YWCA Kitchener-Waterloo’s emergency shelter for women and families, located in downtown Kitchener. Homelessness is the only criteria for shelter.  While cash and gift card donations are always welcome, they also maintain a wish list of non-monetary items that are accepted and used for the programs.  You can also donate online here.

4. Help for Finding Joy

Rachel Martin is the single mom of 7 behind the popular blog Finding Joy, one of my favourite bloggers, and in some ways, the inspiration for Little Pockets of Bliss.  A few weeks ago, she went through the horrific experience of a fire that completely gutted their minivan.  Luckily they all managed to escape, though Rachel did suffer burns to her foot during the ordeal.

I think losses from a fire hit home for me, as my “real world” job is 911 operator for the fire department.  I handle these calls, knowing that I’m talking to someone in what is, perhaps, the worst moment of their life.  While all that truly matters is that everyone gets out safe and sound, after it’s over, the material losses are still pretty devastating.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up, to help with medical bills and the cost of replacing her van.  Due to the age of the van, the replacement value will not be much towards the cost of a new vehicle for 8 people.

5. The Strong Oaks Woodshop

My mom picked this cause for my donation in her honour, as my Mother’s Day gift to her!  She came across this post, shared by one of our favourite children’s book authors, Ben Hatke (check out his website for more info on his art and books like Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, and Nobody Like a Goblin).

Again, a devastating fire has claimed everything this company worked for.  While insurance will cover the cost of replacing the building and tools, their specialty is working with reclaimed wood, something you can’t just go pick up at the hardware store.  And while they are waiting to rebuild, their employees and their families will suffer from the lack of work.  Check out the video story of this amazing company and it’s people.  Strong indeed!

Well, that’s it for this week’s Friday Five! From my mom and me, I’d like to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day!  How are you spending the weekend?  Got a great charitable cause you would like to share? Leave a comment below, or come find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!  I’d love to hear from you!

Friday Five – Holy Guacamole, Young Studios, Guardians Vol 2, Backfire Effect and Little Wonders

Friday Five – Holy Guacamole, Young Studios, Guardians Vol 2, Backfire Effect and Little Wonders

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday Five…5 things that are bringing me bliss this week!  Celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Holy Guacamole Fresh Mex, Young Studios Art, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 review, Backfire Effect, and Little Wonders.

1.  Holy Guacamole Fresh Mex

 

This local, family run, mexican food business specializes in “fresh food as fast as we can”! Started five years ago in downtown Kitchener, Holy Guacamole Fresh Mex now has six locations in Kitchener-Waterloo, making it convenient to get your taco or burrito fix!  The “fresh” in fresh mex is key, and here ingredients are just that;  salsas and guacamole are made daily from in-house recipes, meats are sourced locally and cooked in store, veggies are chopped and prepared fresh always.

They recently had the unfortunate experience of having their Facebook page hacked by some not-so-savoury individuals , and had to start fresh (see what I did there…savoury…fresh…pun-ny!).  In true style though, they kept it light and humorous…

Make sure to follow their new page, and if you haven’t tried them yet, or it’s been a while, why not plan a visit!  Today, Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is a great day…

I’ll be there for dinner…take-out of course, because the margaritas will be flowing at home!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

2. Young Studios

Another interweb find that is rockin’ my art world is Adam Young.

Underwater creatures to date 🐙#polarbear #killerwhale #anglerfish #jellyfish #hermitcrab #turtle #octopus #whale

A post shared by Artist: Adam Young (@young_studios) on


This artist from Newfoundland has truly captured the “down east” spirit that I know from my childhood vacations.  The rich, vibrant colours, coupled with seaside and underwater animal themes is just plain awesome!  Check out his work, and be sure to enter in the draw for a print of his new work “Two Quilts”…although my mom has her eye on this one!!

3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Three generations went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 last night…my mom, my oldest boy and me.  We were eagerly awaiting this sequel, as the original has been a household favourite since it first came out.  I was especially hopeful for an equally smashing soundtrack…you might recall me mentioning our spontaneous dance parties in the living room in a previous edition of the Friday Five (and my apologies for no #GrootDanceBomb video…the boys staunchly opposed recording video evidence of said dance parties).

Feeling a bit disappointed this morning as I write this review.  I was really expecting to download an awesome soundtrack, but the songs were less than memorable (interesting to note, my mom liked the music in this one better than the last…a generational thing?)  We all agreed that the movie dragged a bit, and that the best, most humorous scenes were already in the previews.

There is definitely a concerted effort to develop the characters and delve into more of their backstories in this film.  It wants to be a movie that tugs on your heartstrings, but sadly, it felt forced and fell short (and for someone who cries at the drop of a hat, there was not a tear shed last night).

The bright light was definitely Baby Groot, who stole the show!  Those huge eyes and expressions easily made for the funniest and most memorable moments…I mean, really, who can resist that face?!?

Are you going to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 this weekend?  Let me know your thoughts!  Did you like it?  Better or worse than the original?

4. Backfire Effect

I’ve seen this one quite a few times in my Facebook newsfeed this week.  It’s an interesting read, and certainly fodder for a lot of conversations.  This one is the “clean” version, without all the swear-y bits (although I personally like the swear-y bits…you can find that version here).  Thoughts? On the swear-y thing, or otherwise!  Lol!

5. Little Wonders

Had a little visit down memory lane this week, watching Disney’s “Meet the Robinsons” with the boys.  The movie came out way back in 2007, when my oldest was just 4 years old, and I was pregnant with his little brother.  Shortly thereafter, our family changed, due to divorce, and we became “me and the boys”, the three musketeers (another story for another time).

This song was, and still is, somewhat of an anthem for us.  My oldest knows the song by heart, can identify it from the first few notes when we are out and about and it happens to come on the radio or in a store.  “Mom, it’s our song!”

I tear up every time, but yep, it’s our song!  Pass the tissues…

Well, that’s it for this week’s Friday Five!  What was blissful in your week? Leave a comment below, or come find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!  I’d love to hear from you!