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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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My mom, my sister and my two nieces came to visit from June 29 to July 2nd. We spent one day at Canada’s Wonderland, a couple of days in Niagara Falls and had a fun pool day at home.

The trip started off with a streak of bad luck with some flight cancellations and delays and a late arrival, with an additional trip to the airport to retrieve the luggage (which was there, thank goodness) but the family finally made it safe and sound.

We went to Wonderland on Saturday. The forecast was calling for showers and we think that’s why it wasn’t busy at the park. It was a lot of fun – the girls are getting tall so they can go on a lot more rides now.

Sienna and Maddie at Victoria Falls at Wonderland!

Sienna and Maddie at Victoria Falls at Wonderland!

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Sue and the girls about to get drenched

Sue and the girls about to get drenched

SPLASH!!!

SPLASH!!!

It was funny seeing the girls going on a mix of rides (kiddie rides and adult rides) and they were bored on the kiddie rides. Hehehe Those days are over. We had a good day, ate some pizza before going home and had fun in the pool.

The next morning, we were planning to head to Niagara Falls for some sightseeing, fireworks and an overnight stay. The bad luck continued when we discovered our rear driver’s side tire had a slow leak. It was definitely not a good idea to go to Niagara Falls and back on that tire in case we got stranded. So, plan B kicked in: We put air in the tire and kept our car in the garage, rented an SUV (it was red for Canada Day!) and headed out on the highway – crisis averted! Traffic was horrible on the way there but we had some great music playing and checked into the hotel in early afternoon. Our first stop? One of my favourite places:

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Everything is better with a margarita. :)

Everything is better with a margarita. 🙂

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After a late lunch, we walked around to take our first peek at the Falls…

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The Maid of the Mist (we’re doing that tomorrow):

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Then we walked to Clifton Hill and hopped on the Sky Wheel to get a great view of the Falls and surrounding area:

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Pic of the golf course

Pic of the golf course

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Ice cream!

Ice cream!

We went on this 4D movie ride which was really fun, we did a glow in the dark ride and had to shoot a laser gun at monsters… Good times! At night, we watched the fireworks before returning to the hotel to rest up for the next day’s activities.

On Day 2 at the Falls, we did some souvenir shopping, did the Journey Behind the Falls, did the Maid of the Mist and played mini golf at a cool Dinosaur course.

View of the falls at the end of a tunnel

View of the falls at the end of a tunnel

Sue and the girls in the tunnel

Sue and the girls in the tunnel

Close o the falls!

Close o the falls!

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Chris and I at the Journey Behind the Falls

Chris and I at the Journey Behind the Falls

Chris and the girls on the Maid of the Mist boat ride

Chris and the girls on the Maid of the Mist boat ride

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Beautiful! 🙂

Day 3 was a relaxing pool day followed by our Louisiana Seafood Feast with jazz/blues music, feather boas, masks and yummy food (mussels, shrimp, salad, corn on the cob and cupcakes for dessert).

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Sienna doing somersaults

Sienna doing somersaults

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Sneak attack is imminent!

Sneak attack is imminent!

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Chris took a pic of all the girls :)  No, he was not wearing feathers.

Chris took a pic of all the girls 🙂 No, he was not wearing feathers.

 

Dance party conga line!

Dance party conga line!

 

Day 4 was another pool day in the morning then off to the airport for the fam’s return flight!

Phew!

Life List item crossed off:

– Updated “Drink a margarita in 5 different Margaritaville locations” – 2 to go!

 

 

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I couldn’t help but share a text exchange I had with my sister today. Anyone in IT can probably relate – if anyone in your family has a computer-related question, you’ll undoubtedly get the call. I’m in IT and celebrated my 17 year anniversary at the firm I work at last week (woohoo). I’m considered the “techie” in the family even though my specialization is Enterprise Applications and I haven’t actually “fixed a computer” in the traditional sense in over 7 years. My sister is a flight attendant for Air Canada and has been for about 15 years now.

Sue: I have a tech question. I want to print our travel vouchers at a public PC but it won’t let me download the file. Any way of bypassing?

Sue: Security settings or something?

Me: No idea Sue. Just because I work in IT doesn’t mean I know how every computer in the world is configured… You muggle…hehehe

Sue: Well how would you normally? It’s a work pc so nothing fancy

Me: That’s like me asking you what color cushions the pilots hide under their seats on Air Mongolia. Actually, never mind… 🙂 But seriously – it depends what type of file it is and whether the software needed to open the file is installed. They may also block downloads on the computer to protect it from viruses.

Sue: Ok I’ll wait.

Me: So? What color are their cushions?

Sue: Polka dot

Me: Hahaha I knew it!!!

Sue: Just tried another pc and looks like it’s working woot

Me: Oh good! Could have just been that one having an issue

Sue: Try try again

Me: I’m so blogging about this discussion. Funny 🙂

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Since my husband was scheduled to work over the holidays this year, we were unable to make the trip to Montreal to spend the holidays with family. BUT – my sister came down to visit with her two daughters from the 21st to the 24th so at least we got to see some of the fam at Christmas. 🙂 It was a fun-filled few days – they arrived Thursday night – here’s a recap.

Friday we did some grocery shopping since I hadn’t had time to go before their arrival. We stayed close to home on Friday and worked on snowglobe molds, opened presents and had fun at a “Paris Night” themed dinner.

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Funniest part of this is Chris struggling to free a doll from the box. 🙂

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After dinner we watched the Michael Buble Christmas special and enjoyed some Aramula & Egg Nog cocktails. 🙂

Saturday we headed out to the Black Creek Pioneer Village which was amazing at this time of year – they even had a bit of snow up there – first snow we’ve seen all winter! Black Creek is an actual village set in pioneer times (approx 1861) that you walk through and visit all the different buildings (doctor’s office, schoolhouse, blacksmith, town hall, halfway house and inn, cooper, saddlery, etc.). It was so much fun and all the Christmas decorations made it a very magical experience.

Sue and the girls at the entrance:

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The Town Hall where the kids got to decorate cookies:

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Learning how to weave on a mini loom:

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The doctor’s office:

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The printing office:

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That’s a lot of wood. 🙂

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At Santa’s Cottage:

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The wagon in front of the Halfway House and Inn

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Taffy!

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Sue and I LOVED this village – it was so much fun visiting the different buildings and hearing all about how they did things in those days. Super fun – highly recommended!

We had a late lunch at Red Lobster and we went to see the movie Rise of the Guardians – great holiday film.

Sunday morning was Cookie Mania and I had elves to help me.

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We watched the Smurfs Christmas movie, enjoyed our turkey dinner, then watched the Sound of Music – classic! Everyone was pooped by the end.

Angry Birds was a hit on the iPad…they’re addicted…

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Drove the troops back to the airport this morning – glad that we had such a festive and fun past few days!!

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I’ve been super busy lately and have neglected my blog. Yes, I feel terrible. 🙂 Here’s a recap:

My husband and I celebrated our 9 year anniversary earlier this week. I bought Chris 2 things – one has yet to arrive. The 9th anniversary traditional gift is leather and I bought him a bracelet that’s got metal and small leather inserts – it’s very cool-looking and was to replace the last bracelet he had that broke after several years of wearing. I also got him a leather toiletry case which I know he’ll love since we travel regularly. He got me a new office chair to replace the squeaky monstrosity I’m using now – I’ve had it for years… We went out for dinner last night to celebrate and I enjoyed one of the best Italian meals I’ve had in a long time! We went to Trattoria Timone and even though we didn’t have reservations, they were able to find a table for us. I started with one of the best caesar salads I’ve ever had – super garlicky! followed by the jumbo seafood ravioli – truly decadent and really delicious. Shrimp, scallops and lobster wrapped in one massive ravioli in a tasty rosée sauce – perfection. Paired with a yummy Malbec. Tiramisu and a cappuccino for dessert. I blew my whole bank of WW points on that meal but it was worth it! 🙂

Last weekend, family came down to visit from Montreal and we took them to the Badlands – I love this place, I feel like I’m walking on Mars…  My sister-in-law and I did some fall shopping as well and I think I bought out the entire RW & Co store. Ha. Just kidding. But I did stock up on work clothes for fall including 3 skirts, 3 tops, 2 cardis and 2 pairs of pants. I’m all set – except for the elusive hunt of the new handbag for fall. Must find this soon now that the weather is cooling down.

We closed the pool (snif) but we’ll be back in sunny climes soon enough during our cruise in October. Funny story – a rep from the cruise line contacted me asking if we wanted to upgrade our ocean suite to the grand suite for an extra $720. We countered that we’d do it for $300. We’ll see what happens. 🙂

I’ve been hooked on a book series by Jean Auel about caveman times – it’s really a very engrossing story that’s set about 25,000 years ago when both Neanderthals and Cro-magnons lived at the same time. The characters are very interesting and I’m enjoying learning about the way of life back then which mainly focused on survival and finding food, shelter and surviving the elements. I’ve just started book 5 – highly recommend for something a little different. I watched the movie they made of book 1 (The Clan of the Cave Bear) with Darryl Hannah back in the mid-80s but it doesn’t do the book justice.

I think that sums it up.

I feel much better now – you’re all caught up! 🙂

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Sunday was a relaxed day spent playing backgammon by the lake, then chillin by the pool at home, then off to see Snow White and the Huntsman. Charlize did a fantastic job playing the evil queen. Kirsten Stewart was better than expected but only because she didn’t have much dialogue to begin with. The costumes and artistic elements of the film were great.

Monday morning, Julie and I went to see Magic Mike. Surprisingly several people were there for the 10:20am showing, even a couple of guys (dragged there by their wives no doubt). Matthew and Channing…in the same film…about male strippers. *snicker* The story was engrossing and intellectually stimulating…no, not really. 😀  Light and fluffy – glad we paid matinee pricing LOL

The weather all weekend couldnt’ have been more perfect: 30+ and sunny. Julie caught her flight back to Montreal this afternoon…time flew – our fun weekend ended too soon!

There is a silver lining though – I’m still on vacation the rest of the week. 🙂

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