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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:

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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.

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

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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 :)).

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The reindeer flight academy…

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

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

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

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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.

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

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We took some pics with the town props too…

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

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

Well done Mountsberg!!

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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:

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Maddie posing with the flowers 🙂

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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.

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

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Pumpkin patch – will soon be teeming with pumpkins:

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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. 🙂

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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

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Outhouse – the luxury of a 2-holer:

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The smokehouse:

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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!

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2015 in pictures

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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:

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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:

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Webster Falls:

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

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Oranges:

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Reds:

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Even all of them together:

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Kiddos horsing around 🙂

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Lone red leaf

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

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Captured a couple at the top of the falls:

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Pretty trees:

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

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Under a weeping willow:

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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:

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Having fun at the pumpkin patch:

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We’re on vacation this week and my sister and her two daughters spent 5 days with us. On Thursday night, we went to Red Lobster for the traditional supper. The gang spent the day shopping on Friday since Chris and I were working, then we picked them up, did the groceries and watched Harry Potter 5 – the girls are going through the HP phase and are obsessed with everything to do with Harry Potter. Since the party, it’s been a HP whirlwind. So, for the movie viewing, we decorated with all sorts of HP paraphernalia including props we had fun with at the party: the Sorting hat, McGonagall’s hat, Dumbledore’s wand, a HP themed magazine, candies, a rememberall, a crystal ball… You get the picture.

Saturday we had a farm day planned. We started out at Andrew’s Scenic Acres and visited the farm animals and picked up some berries and baked goods (apple pie, butter tarts). We headed over to Springridge Farm for lunch and shopping where I ended up buying a gorgeous wrap (getting ready for fall a bit early).  After that, we went to Terre Bleu, a lavender farm – our first time and it was amazing! We took the guided tour and learned about lavender, visited the distillery and the apiary, enjoyed some lavender lemonade and bought some goodies in the boutique (lavender essential oil, massage oil and honey). It was a great place and we look forward to returning.

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Lavender drying in the distillery:

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The bee hives:

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Friends on the farm:

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After this, we went home to prepare for dinner and our Hippie Beach BBQ party, the theme of the day. 🙂 I made grilled salmon and pork chops, antipasto skewers and corn on the cob.

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For dessert, I made quasi-smore-skewers with strawberries, marshmallows and mini brownies, with marshmallow ballerinas and flip flop cookies (on a bed of brown sugar):

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After dinner, we waited for the sun to go down to go out and play glow-in-the-dark ring toss – which was awesome!

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On Sunday we packed a picnic lunch and headed over to Hilton Falls Conservation area for a hike to the falls and campfire area. It was really nice – the weather was variably cloudy and not too humid. We headed to a nearby park that had a cool splash pad for the kids, then headed downtown to the Taste of the Danforth Greek festival – had dinner at Christina’s, an amazing restaurant, and the kids enjoyed some of the fair rides.

Monday we headed up to Collingwood for a short visit and lunch at Blue Mountain village then went to the Scenic Caves which was AMAZING. It was pretty physical and some of the caves were pretty cramped quarters, but it was a fantastic experience with beautiful scenery. The girls absolutely loved it. At the same place, we visited a suspension bridge (well, everyone except me – I just can’t do suspension bridges) and the girls panned for gems. It started raining in the middle of the afternoon but that didn’t deter us! We stopped by a local Italian restaurant for dinner and started watching Harry Potter 6 (got through about half before we hit the sack – we finished Tuesday morning).

Pictures at the Caves:

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Chris and the girls were the only ones who braved passing through this one, the widest point was 36 cm!!

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The girls enjoying a Beaver Tail at Blue Mountain village:

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We dropped the troops off at the airport Tuesday after lunch.

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My sister and her two daughters came down to visit (Dec 26 to 30) and as usual, we prepared ourselves for the whirlwind they bring with them. 🙂 We had lots of outings and activities planned and although traditional winter activities weren’t in the cards (we don’t have any snow!), we still enjoyed the outdoors.

We watched holiday movies as well as Harry Potter 3, listened to lots of music (both Christmas and pop songs the girls were into these days), had an “Austrian-themed” dinner (for the Sound of Music) with kerchiefs in our hair. Chris didn’t want to wear any lederhosen. 🙂 We did lots of holiday crafts including painting tree ornaments, making snowflakes and ballerina snowflake skirts, painting nutcracker figures, and more.

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The tree:

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We went to the ROM where the girls enjoyed the dinosaurs and animal exhibits. We visited the Canadian wing as well and the girls got to make origami figures at one of the workshop tables as well. We got to hold snakes (Life List item crossed off – woohoo!). The one I held was a black rat snake from Ontario. He was heavier than I expected:

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Then we brought the girls skating at the Harbourfront Natrel rink (great view of Lake Ontario here and very festive with lights and music):

 

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We had a holiday turkey lunch followed by more skating at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. This rink was much less crowded and a good size.

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On Monday we went to the Metro Toronto Zoo to see the winter animals. It was much less crowded than our summer visits so in a way, it was more enjoyable. We visited the giant panda exhibit (here from 2013 to 2018), reindeer, a very playful polar bear, a snow leopard, red pandas, an adorable arctic fox, arctic wolves, and many more!

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After the zoo, we went to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre which was pretty awesome for Lego fans. There are a couple of rides, 4D movies (4 movies that play in rotation), different games and play areas themed for the various types of legos. They had cool displays of Toronto landmarks in Miniland:

 

 

 

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The girls in the Lego Friends area:

 

 

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The whole area is probably a parent’s worst nightmare with lego pieces all over the floor hehehe but it was fun. Of course we got to build some stuff ourselves. Go Habs Go!! 🙂

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Another great visit!

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