Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘family’

Now that I’ve recuperated from the whirlwind that is my sister and her two daughters, I can write a blog post about all the fun we had during their holiday visit.

They arrived on the 21st on an empty flight and landed at Billy Bishop airport. With the news showing a jam-packed Pearson airport (busiest day of the year apparently), it made sense to fly to the island airport. Traffic was actually light due to many already being off work.

We got back home and everyone settled in. We made lunch (rigatoni with cherry tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella) then had fun playing a rousing game of Christmas charades. The girls are getting old enough to play games that adult enjoy playing too. 🙂 Fun!! We then headed out to Michael’s to get some holiday craft materials that we wanted to tackle during their stay (more on these later!).

We were also cat-sitting for my sister-in-law’s cat Dusty and after a nervous first day, he adjusted quickly and joined in some of the activities. 🙂

25994921_10159740136120082_2674872485438241547_n

The following day we were planning to go to the Distillery District to see the Christmas Market. During the day, we made the first batch of treats: Smore’s Cookies. They were really yummy and my kitchen helpers were awesome!

25552173_10159729003740082_4886421759083856823_n25994550_10159729003755082_8961101618819293651_n25551971_10159729004170082_4814719030946075649_n

The girls also wrote their letters to Santa for Jingles the Elf to bring them to him. This is a kit that comes with magical paper (and a storybook explaining it all) that shrinks when you bake it (with the help of an adult) so they’re small enough for the elf to carry back to Santa. It was really neat! You can see the large letter in the first pic. Then, the shrunken versions in the 2nd and 3rd pic:

25994810_10159729004360082_2360801266256066955_n26055591_10159729005180082_5525341971280833591_n25994944_10159729044755082_6695385453692820194_n

We also played 5 Second Rule, a fun and simple game where a player has to name 3 things that fit the category in 5 seconds. This was a lot of fun!

25594210_10159731870225082_2410792068495860632_n

Next was our visit to the Christmas Market. We all hopped on the GO train, played a Christmas-themed version of the alphabet game all the way downtown and got to the market just as the sun was setting and the lights sparkled. 🙂

25659691_10159724830305082_4808182105023800181_n (1)

25550289_10159724830800082_1373925847426444329_n25550648_10159724830775082_1604733040646879095_n25551835_10159724831095082_3446460481756072216_n25552002_10159724830785082_3833508101370206279_n25592144_10159724830985082_9082034383342170797_n25593856_10159724841830082_5387231866352405304_n25594023_10159724830965082_6163972100042742828_n25594037_10159724831080082_7511584573336325078_n (1)25659649_10159724831495082_7873404915311920183_n

On the way back to Union Station, we stopped for dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory and it was warm and cozy. Their Christmas decor was fantastic – just what we needed to warm up!

25659574_10159724842835082_7998783250341813911_n

The next day we made the next batch of cookies; these were mainly for Uncle Chris: Maple Bacon Cookies. Holy moly were they ever good!

25593841_10159731870045082_8276445302570604034_n.jpg

We made the first craft which was a 3d puzzle-like train made out of foam which was harder than it looked. On the box, they provide a suggested time to finish it (an hour I believe) and we did it in that amount of time:

25994628_10159731869775082_1994539335719723805_n26001192_10159731869925082_6365520026478242654_n

We played a bit more charades then got ready for our “Christmas by Lamplight” evening at Black Creek Village. We drove: Drove to the village and drove Uncle Chris crazy with our carol-singing in the car. 🙂 Ha! The village itself was beautifully decorated for the holidays and most of the buildings had something festive going on – see a more complete post here. In short, it was amazing. I’d go back in a heartbeat – highly recommended!!

The next day we made cinnamon-baked doughnuts. Oh my.

25659846_10159731870675082_2868094154380381947_n

Baking is hard work:

26055625_10159731870230082_315427070886495072_n

Had Cadbury hot chocolate (best ever – all others have now been ruined):

25659884_10159724829880082_7083240912511011298_n

We had an impromptu coloring session:

26001166_10159731870200082_7006412714452984061_n.jpg

We finished up some wrapping to make sure we were all ready for the big day. We all dressed up and had a nice charcuterie, cheese, cracker and fruit dinner with cranberry orange punch (cranberry cocktail, orange juice, sparkling water, cinnamon stick and couple of cloves). I could eat it every day. 🙂  But then I’d end up looking like Santa, so, no.

25659995_10159731871965082_4065385175689011190_n

25591632_10159731871270082_8431644797703420061_n25592159_10159731871065082_4065447311285945566_n

We watched a holiday movie (I lost track of which one!!) then the kids were off to bed to try to get some sleep before Santa’s arrival tomorrow morning.  We left out some cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.

25552411_10159731873630082_7342076153317934188_n

Maddie read Twas the night Before Christmas to us. 🙂

25594203_10159731873620082_4389929444755460106_n

We managed to take a pic of the tree after Santa came 🙂

25659475_10159731895865082_8804887983758041666_n25994504_10159731884990082_1737746113721905580_n26112244_10159731895500082_8185744772636775841_n

Dec 25th – Christmas Morning!!!! Sue, Chris and I grabbed our coffees, cookies and doughnuts and the kids opened their stockings. They joined us for cookies, then tackled the gifts. 🙂  Everyone was very happy. I loved what I received from kitchen goodies from Chris (a beautiful pan, cutting boards and tools that I needed) to an awesome winter scarf and Harry Potter slippers from Sue. It was a great success!

25591992_10159733425285082_7845713605907881745_n26047222_10159734543620082_3431512334759203381_n25594189_10159734544240082_2000613808570010702_n25594242_10159734545130082_801744610601829551_n

The girls spent most of the day playing; we took a break for lunch (leftover meats and cheeses), then we started on dinner! The adults kicked off the festivities with a bit of brandy. 🙂

25994602_10159735290285082_7536073408368966789_n

25994665_10159915077840245_2481590352058613363_n26047260_10159915077575245_5414193900597319602_n

Then we watched The Sound of Music – it’s tradition! And off to bed!

25594102_10159736836725082_3110095018487825997_n

On the 26th, after having eaten a load of treats and lord knows what else, we headed out to Crawford Lake to enjoy the outdoors and hiked the boardwalk around the lake. It was a cold one but we were all bundled up and pretty much the only ones there! Even the drive up was quiet and scenic.

26165169_10159740144100082_3551673955640247568_n26047052_10159740143505082_6764696606275177484_n26055905_10159918226390245_8347130059840623877_n26111969_10159740143630082_7087969767516959791_n26047151_10159740143705082_5156841278975496094_n25660117_10159918226340245_6837759604618664008_n26166787_10159918226275245_4652192296204654439_n25994596_10159918226920245_5426287786215624054_n25994713_10159918226545245_764213131021337758_n

We stopped for lunch at Boston Pizza on the way back home and made Christmas ornaments – we got the makings of this from Michael’s as well and these turned out great!
25994955_10159740151495082_8087328986270696205_n

We braved the cold again the following day and walked the trails near our house on our way to Starbucks to warm up. We came across a dad and his son tobogganing in the area (we heard the dad screaming from a couple of blocks away) and he asked Sienna and Maddie if they would like a ride (to spare him from having to go again teehee). The girls were super excited to have a run. 🙂

26047433_10159742710225082_922254116962781663_n26165879_10159742710685082_8742626036155124505_n

We had fun playing follow the leader on the way back to warm up. There was hopping and jumping involved. Luckily, no video. 🙂

26169513_10159743127415082_7461510814692179662_n

And that’s it! We survived another family visit, packed as many holiday activities as we could and from what I hear, the girls are already interested in coming back to Aunt Val’s next Christmas. 🙂 A year to recover should be enough. I think.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

A couple of months ago, I had submitted our entry for the Christmas Town Lottery and received our date/time for our visit to Christmas Town at the Mountsberg Conservation Area. Every year, Mountsberg puts on a Santa’s Village type Christmas Town with related activities and it’s awesome. And today was the day! Which was perfect since the forecast was calling for snow and there had been some flurries in the past coupe of days in the area.

Chris and I met up with his sister (also my bestie) and her family and we headed to the park. We arrived and checked into the Visitor’s Centre, where they confirmed the names of the kids attending. We still had a little under an hour before our wagon ride to Christmas Town so we explored the play barn, animal farm (in the new barn), a visit with a local owl Octavius and the Elf Academy where the kids (both big and small) enjoyed some fun activities. The owl was a beautiful bird:

img_6346

img_6348

img_6349

When it was time for our wagon ride, our guide Christine gathered the troops from the Elf Academy and led us to the wagon ride where we got to sing Jingle Bells on our way to Santa.

img_6350

Right before our arrival, we passed the “Temporary North Pole”. 🙂

img_6352

In the town were Santa’s Workshop where you could hear the elves working on toys. (When you can’t hear anything it means they’re likely working on stuffed animals :)).

img_6353

The reindeer flight academy…

img_6354

And Parcel Pickup where the elves drop off the toys for the naughty and nice lists.

img_6355

img_6356

img_6357

There were nice touches everywhere to add to the festive ambiance:

img_6358

We were greeted by Mrs. Claus and invited into Santa’s cabin:

img_6359

Our niece and nephew got to tell Santa what they would like for Christmas and received candy canes from Santa and an ornament from Mrs. Claus.

img_6360

We got to sample Mrs. Claus’ cookies and hot chocolate too. The kids got to decorate their cookie. 🙂

img_6361

img_6362

img_6364

We took some pics with the town props too…

img_6367

img_6365

img_6372

Then headed over for a closer look at the Reindeer Flight Academy – which was equipped with flight simulator and all!

img_6368

img_6369

img_6370

img_6371

It was a great day and the occasional flurry just added to the magic of the holidays. 🙂

Well done Mountsberg!!

Read Full Post »

We welcomed my sister and her two daughters for a visit this past long weekend. We had all sorts of fun activities lined up, got to catch up on their shenanigans, enjoy some summer fun and had a blast!

They arrived on Wednesday night and spent Thursday shopping in the neighborhood (I was working on Thursday). We went out for dinner at Paramount (local middle eastern food – so yummy) and watched the movie Splash. Flashbacks!!

On Friday, we had a whole day planned outside; since my husband was working, we stayed out of the house. Our first stop was a local farm we visit regularly called Andrew’s Scenic Acres to pick our own berries (we picked blueberries and raspberries), enjoy the scenery, pick up some treats at the market (can’t resist butter tarts), visit the farm animals and have some fresh berry ice cream (or frozen yogurt) – delicious! I tried the black currant this time and it was amazing.

My nieces Sienna and Maddie with their berry picking baskets:

IMG_20160729_105835

Maddie posing with the flowers 🙂

IMG_20160729_110056IMG_20160729_110127IMG_20160729_110226IMG_20160729_110251IMG_20160729_110255IMG_20160729_110352

Our second stop was at another local farm called Springridge Farm. We had lunch (LOVE the Ploughman’s Lunch which includes cheeses, cured meats, pickles, fruit bread with apple butter, cherry tomatoes and blueberries), then had fun in the kids’ area visiting the animals, took a wagon ride, watched the kids have a blast while we chatted. We popped into the market to shop and I ended up buying a few things (jars for the bathroom, a nice teacup, some salt water taffy and a smell-good sachet). We were not done yet! We headed over to Rattlesnake Point for a hike – we did the red trail and the yellow trail – about 4km in all. It was a gorgeous day for a hike and the girls did well on one of the more rugged trails they’ve done while visiting.

IMG_20160729_142238

Not quite sure where this little guy is going… 🙂 hihihi

IMG_20160729_142643IMG_20160729_142649IMG_20160729_142655

Pumpkin patch – will soon be teeming with pumpkins:

IMG_20160729_144415IMG_20160729_145159IMG_20160729_151243IMG_20160729_151247

On Saturday we had a group day trip planned with my sister in law and her family: We all headed up to Blue Mountain for lunch and had fun visiting the village. The kids did a scavenger hunt throughout the village and participated in a drum activity in the center square – that was fun – everyone got into it. We then headed up to the Scenic Caves (the kids were dying to go back) – it’s such a cool place. Highly recommended if you’re in the area – keep in mind a bit of agility is required to get in and out of the caves but everyone we ran into did just fine. We headed back to the village for dinner, watched the fireworks on our walk back to the car and headed home, waaay after bedtime. 🙂

IMG_20160730_160513

On Sunday we went to the Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton, a pioneer village with over 30 buildings and people in period dress explaining how they performed tasks in various jobs back in the day. What a great place! We took our time and visited each building, chatted with the staff who were super friendly and knowledgeable. The kids played old-fashioned games in the green space  in the centre of the village. The village was hosting their annual ice cream festival and we got to enjoy fresh pie and homemade ice cream as well. What a great day! We got back home and had a barbecue on the deck. Then we watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (as you know, the girls are huge Harry Potter fans and we hadn’t seen the last movies in the series together).

I really enjoyed learning about the different jobs and tasks around the village. My favorite parts at the village were the gardens, the cabinetmaker, the general store, the school and the outhouse. LOL

IMG_20160731_140124IMG_20160731_140133IMG_20160731_140206IMG_20160731_140649IMG_20160731_140908IMG_20160731_141009

Outhouse – the luxury of a 2-holer:

IMG_20160731_141033

The smokehouse:

IMG_20160731_141225IMG_20160731_141319IMG_20160731_141440IMG_20160731_141623IMG_20160731_141628

IMG_20160731_143131

IMG_20160731_142649

IMG_20160731_142906

IMG_20160731_142807IMG_20160731_143257IMG_20160731_143414IMG_20160731_143451IMG_20160731_144107IMG_20160731_144156IMG_20160731_145051IMG_20160731_145151

IMG_20160731_145431

 

IMG_20160731_150612

IMG_20160731_151016

IMG_20160731_151529IMG_20160731_151830

IMG_20160731_152100IMG_20160731_151901

IMG_20160731_152601

IMG_20160731_153110

Since their return flight left in the afternoon on Monday (a stat holiday in Ontario), we did some shopping to pick up the new Harry Potter book at Chapters along with a few more items. We swung by Walmart as well, then back home to pick up the luggage then off to the airport!

We ate too much, walked too much, slept too little but we’ll see the gang again at Thanksgiving!

Read Full Post »

2015 in pictures

Read Full Post »

This year we had family down for Thanksgiving. Since it was only a couple of days, we made the most of our time together. The fam (sister and her two daughters, plus my brother and his wife) arrived Saturday in time for Thanksgiving lunch. My sister-in-law, her husband and their two kids who live nearby also arrived for lunch. We were 11 in all: 7 adults and 4 kiddos. I had my first kiddy table (and none of the kids are mine lol).

I cooked everything the day before (except the turkey). I started the turkey at 5am so it would be ready for lunchtime. I changed up the menu this year:

  • Ciabatta buns, butter
  • Wild mushroom medley (cremini, button, shitake mushrooms with shallots, garlic, parsley, sherry vinegar, olive oil)
  • Roasted red onions (olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh thyme)
  • Red and yellow baby potatoes with butter, thyme, salt and pepper
  • Maple-glazed carrots and rutabaga (glaze: maple syrup, butter, brown sugar)
  • Green beans with gremolata (lemon zest, salt, pepper, shallots, garlic, pine nuts)
  • Turkey (stuffed with lemons, thyme, salt & pepper)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Sweet gherkins
  • Pickled beets
  • Greek salad provided by sister-in-law/husband (thanks!)
  • Dessert: Lemon meringue pie, Apple pie, Cinnamon coffee cake
  • Wine: Thirty Bench 2010 Benchmark

Pics of the kiddy table and grown-up table:

12112206_10156206616510245_6510156911578753733_n

12140996_10156206617165245_1936411578066165804_o

After lunch, we headed out to enjoy the fall colours and hiked from Webster Falls to Tews Falls and back in Hamilton (Ontario). The scenery was just beautiful. I was able to capture some great pics of fall foliage.

Gorgeous tree in the parking lot:

IMG_5781

IMG_5783

Webster Falls:

IMG_5784

IMG_5785

We got to enjoy all the colours of the fall rainbow including greens and yellows:

IMG_5787

Oranges:

IMG_5788

IMG_5789

Reds:

IMG_5790

Even all of them together:

IMG_5791

IMG_5792

IMG_5793

IMG_5794

Kiddos horsing around 🙂

IMG_5796

IMG_5797

Lone red leaf

IMG_5798

The sun created a cool effect on this one at Tews Falls:

IMG_5799

Captured a couple at the top of the falls:

IMG_5802

IMG_5803

Pretty trees:

IMG_5804

Surrounding area back at Websters Falls, reminds me of an English garden:

IMG_5805

IMG_5808

IMG_5814

Under a weeping willow:

IMG_5815

Sunday, we headed to Stonehaven Farm for farm goodies, picked our pumpkins and played in the hay maze. Uncle Mark and I played tag with the kids in the hay maze – fun! When we got home, we had leftover turkey and fixings for lunch then started decorating our pumpkins. We chose to do sugar skulls this year for a change – they turned out pretty good:

12091400_10156209402400245_4383818929433265871_o

Having fun at the pumpkin patch:

IMG_5816

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »