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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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We had the troops down to visit this weekend. My sister and her two girls as well as my brother and his wife all came down from Montreal for the weekend. We had a packed schedule of fall activities planned and thankfully the weather didn’t disappoint!

Saturday we headed out to Stonehaven Farm to visit the pumpkin patch, get lost in the corn maze (life list item crossed off!!) and pick up some farm fresh pies. Our next stop was Crawford Lake to visit the reconstructed Iroquois village (one of my nieces has a school project to build a longhouse so this was a perfect stop as she got to see one up close); we also hiked the trail around the lake (1.4km, easy boardwalk path). The views were really nice. Then we returned home to carve the pumpkins and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner. 🙂

Sunday we walked around our neighborhood, stopped at some local parks, walked a local trail then back home for lunch. In the afternoon we went over to Springridge Farm for the Harvest Festival and the kids had fun on the Fun Farm. They played with the animals, ran around in the hay bales, slid down the slides, watched the puppet show, navigated the little corn path… A fun afternoon at the farm. 🙂 We picked up some kettle corn and other goodies at the market and headed back home for supper (and Maddie’s birthday cupcakes!) and to watch Harry Potter 2 (Chamber of Secrets). We couldn’t stay awake for the whole movie – we were all pooped – so we’ll watch the second half today. 🙂

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In the longhouse at Crawford Lake, listening to lore and watching a fire starting demonstration – which was pretty awesome!

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On the hike around the lake:

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Thanksgiving dinner!

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Animals at Springridge Farm:

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Maddie’s birthday ghoulie cupcakes:

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