Category Archives: Winter

Pine Vista Resort

Last week Evan and I went on a leeettle romantic getaway to Pine Vista Resort, a small-ish cottage resort on Stoney Lake, just outside of Lakefield. We had been planning it for a while, as a kind of anniversary/Christmas getaway, and we looked into a bunch of different Ontario resorts. We chose this one because it had fantastic reviews, it was a great deal, and Pine Vista offers a ton of activities in the winter – cross country skiing, snowshoeing, skating (and skating parties!), and even a toboggan hill. So for the entire month of December I was excited to get my winter adventure on.

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Our winter has been quite mild so far (until this week), and I almost started this sentence with “Unfortunately” but I don’t think a mild winter is unfortunate at all because last year was freezing and we got an insane amount of snow and it was annoying. However, it is unfortunate that the ONE TIME I want there to be snow there is none (also no snow for Christmas and that was sad). The day before Evan and I left for our getaway we had given up on tobogganing and cross country skiing and snowshoeing, and were resigned to the fact that we would instead be going on muddy nature walks. Hurrah.

But even without the snow, Pine Vista was pretty awesome. Definitely more family-oriented, but I saw a few other pairs of lovers lovering around as well. I also liked that it was not fancy and quite rustic. It felt like a cottage. Each accommodation is set up like your own little cabin, and we had a full kitchen:

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Which was fantastic because it was just after Christmas and we brought all our turkey dinner leftovers.

One bedroom with a double and single bed…

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A second bedroom with a queen bed…

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A living room with a wood burning fireplace…

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A huge deck with a view of the lake/other cottages (and a barbecue!)…

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And two full bathrooms, one with a jacuzzi tub and shower, and the other with just a stand-up shower.

The amenities around the resort included an indoor hot tub…

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Outdoor hot tub…

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A games room! (air hockey is the best)

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And lakeside tetherball!

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Exciting! We took advantage and did all the things. Also included in our romantic getaway package was a bottle of wine.

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Which was much appreciated.

Since there was no snow, the staff had to get creative with the holiday activities. When we arrived they were hosting a “winter” festival (I shouldn’t have quotes, it did become extremely cold our second day), with a fire for weenie and marshmallow roasting…

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And syrup drizzled onto ice to make taffee. Also archery.

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Which looked like a good time, but Evan and I did not partake as the kids looked like they were loving it and we didn’t want to take it over.

Our first night there the lake wasn’t even entirely frozen.

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But it froze overnight!

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I was really excited about this, because if we couldn’t go tobogganing and snowshoeing and cross country skiing, at least we could maybe go skating. The lake rink wasn’t ready yet though, so we decided to wait until the next day.

Also included in our getaway package was a ride on a horse drawn carriage.

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Usually it is a horse drawn sleigh, but again the no snow. The beautiful horses took us on a 45 minute adventure along the lake.

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It was really cold at that point, so very important to bundle up.

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Afterwards the resort staff invited us inside for hot chocolate and homemade chocolate chip cookies, which were delicious. I ate at least five of them.

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We went on our nature walk, which thankfully was not even muddy because it got cold.

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Guess the animal tracks! We are thinking raccoon maybe?

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That tree had a sign beside it that said it was marked by the Ministry of Natural Resources as the perfect example of a healthy pine tree because it was so tall and straight. It did look like a perfect tree.

We spent both nights in our little cabin by the fire.

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Lots of wine and lots of reading.

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So that was pretty amazing.

And on our last day we went skating!

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I was so, so excited about this. You may remember on our Niagara Falls getaway last year my plans of romantic skating were foiled because the rink was closed, and when I saw the state of the ice when we first arrived I thought that was going to be the case again. But nope! I was a little unsteady at first, but it all came back to me. For Evan though, this was his first time on skates in 20 years, so he was a bit apprehensive…

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But with a little coaching he was all good, and surprisingly steady.

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I just held his hands and skated backwards, pulling him around, which I am pretty sure would have looked hilarious to anyone watching.

The scenery was beautiful.

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I love that we were able to go skating. I miss living on a lake.

As for eats, we brought all of our food with us and made pretty spectacular breakfasts…

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And for dinner one night we had a giant soft bun filled with leftover turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy.

We also went into town for dinner one night at Trip Advisor’s #1 restaurant in Lakefield: Jack’s Family Restaurant!

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We looked up the reviews beforehand and everyone seemed to recommend the seafood chowder, so both Evan and I started with that.

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Definitely good. For my main I ordered the pan-fried haddock with Caesar salad and rice.

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My fish was amazing.

They also made homemade pies so I got a slice of lemon meringue to go.

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Because I cannot resist homemade lemon meringue pie. Ever. It didn’t compare to my mom’s, but it was still tasty.

So all in all, a very good time and I’m so glad we did it. It was nice to get away from everything and just relax for a few days.

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Highly recommend Pine Vista resort if you are looking for a cottage resort to stay at in Ontario. It would be amazing in the summer, and we are definitely going back in the winter when there is snow for activities.

The Tartan Birthday

Even though my actual birthday was on Saturday I decided to celebrate on Friday since it seemed to work better for everyone, and then I would have the rest of the weekend to leisure (plus I was celebrating with my dad and Mona on Saturday afternoon).

I am not huge on celebrating my own birthday and 31 isn’t a big milestone or anything so I just wanted to do something low key. Originally I had planned all-you-can-eat sushi with my friends, but then Emily and Sherrie were all “But don’t you kind of want to go to the Tartan?” and when I thought about it, yes I kind of did want to go to the Tartan. The Tartan is a pub in Oshawa that I used to frequent back in Journalism school that I have not been to in years but is ALWAYS a good time. It is different than your typical pub because it has a back room that turns into a dance party on the weekend. They usually have a live band back there that is more like a Bon Jovi cover band, which I dig in a cheesy hilarious sort of way. My bestie and I have had some times there, let me tell you. Who doesn’t love screaming “Livin on a Prayer”? That dance floor has seen a lot of dance floor air guitars.

Sushi was up first (Tatemono in Whitby), and it was plentiful and delicious, and I only have one picture from the entire experience.

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Sherrie included that beautiful elephant mask in my birthday card. You had to put it together yourself and I let Evan do that task and he got a bit mixed up with the ears…but I liked it and I think it was more funny that way.

After the sushi we headed to the Tartan. We lost some people after all the eating, but most were still in attendance and excited for the back room. I knew the Tartan was not going to disappoint when I arrived and there was a ladder in the middle of the dance floor…

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Renée, Julie, Sherrie, moi, Emily, Jo

I don’t know why it was there, but obviously we used it for a photo shoot.

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I just have to say, it was a super fun and hilarious night. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt the next day.

A recap of my favourite moments:

Sherrie’s blow up ring toss cake made it to the bar…

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And at one point we had basically the entire bar tossing the rings onto it. Rings were just flying everywhere.

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People were getting realllly into the ring toss game. Like these two lads sitting at a table near ours…

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We would just throw the ring to some random person out in the bar, and they would throw it back onto the cake. Even “Security” got in on it.

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I thought he was coming over to tell us to shut it down, but nope, he liked it. I say “Security” loosely because he was definitely encouraging our ridiculous behaviour (umm like at one point he gave me an impromptu [PG!!!] lap dance and I genuinely thought someone had hired a stripper for me).

The band was also a big fan of the ring toss game and kept singing about it.

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So we set it up in front of them in case people wanted to do some ring tossing on the dance floor, which they did.

We also had Sherrie’s monkey with us, as Evan and his new bromance partner Dustin are demonstrating in this picture.

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The band LOVES the monkey. Sherrie has been frequenting the Tartan with the monkey over the past year or so and the monkey was seriously like a celebrity. The band kept inserting the monkey into song lyrics, which made me laugh hard because it reminded me of when I do the same thing with Winnie’s name.

The band also sang Happy Birthday to me (along with all my friends and the entire bar), which was kind of embarrassing but is definitely a moment I will always remember. And Evan had given the servers the best cake ever earlier in the evening, so they brought that out to me as everyone sang.

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I was VERY. EXCITED. for the cake.  Look at those strawberries!

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It was so beautiful. And it was so incredibly good. Evan got it from Highland Farms, where we also got the cake for my Nana’s birthday. They definitely do cakes right over there. We just annihilated it. Even with all of us eating it there was cake leftover, and we didn’t want it to go to waste, so we started feeding it to people.

Security once again really liked this.

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As did this man.

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We also gave an actual slice to the band, which they enjoyed, and I offered it to the table next to us and the macho guy sitting there was all “Ohh I can’t. I am trying to be healthy for the first time in my life and I am actually going to the gym and eating well and this cake is going to ruin my momentum.” I told him that I understood. We’ve all been there. I am also being healthy and going to the gym, but then I ate his piece for him, because birthday.

And then they played Funkytown during a band break (which I requested, of course), and no one was on the dance floor but that is my jam and I wasn’t going to miss it. So I grabbed the elephant mask and the birthday cake ring toss and I got out there and I got things done.

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The Tartan was actually the most dead I have ever seen it, I think because it was so cold outside people didn’t want to go out, which I totally get. I did not mind in the least as I had a REALLY great time with my pals.

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Fun times all around.

When we were leaving Emily, Sherrie, Evan and I were standing in the pub section and there was this dude sitting by himself just mowing down on the best looking poutine I have ever seen. We were all blatantly staring/drooling. He looked up and caught us, so we were all “that looks sooooo gooooood,” and he actually offered some to us. I couldn’t believe it. I would never offer strangers my poutine, but…I guess I did just offer strangers my birthday cake… Anyway, we declined, but it was nice of him. And then we went back to Sherrie’s and ate her famous taco dip and The End.

Thank you to my buds who came out and made my big day special 🙂

Being a Tourist in our Own City (The CN Tower Adventure)

So you may have noticed the super tall building that is the focal point in Toronto’s skyline.

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Summer, I miss you!!!

The CN Tower. The tallest freestanding structure in the western hemisphere (it was the tallest in the world until 2010), and one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Huge tourist attraction. Naturally you’d think since it is close by we would visit it all the time but no. When Evan and I did the Toronto Ghost Tour with Corey and Emily we were talking about other things we could do in the city and we discovered that neither Corey or Evan had ever been to the CN Tower before and both Emily and I hadn’t been there since we were very young.

We decided right then that the CN Tower was next on our list of things to do while we were being tourists in our own city. So that’s where we went on Sunday (after the gold medal hockey game of course).

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Tall.

We also decided that it could be another 30  years before any of us are back there so we might as well do the CN Tower right and go to the 360 Restaurant for lunch. It is a very pricey restaurant (by my standards, anyway). It’s $55 for the prix fixe lunch menu, which normally would be too rich for my blood, but that price did include a lift ticket to the top of the tower and access to the two observation decks, which is $30 on its own. So when you factor that in it’s not so bad. And we had to eat somewhere…

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Why not at a restaurant with a REVOLVING floor that gives you a 360 degree view of the city? (hence the name 360 Restaurant) The floor moves very slowly, so we only did about one and a half turns in the time we were there (slightly over an hour and a half I think). I felt like it was a good amount because if it had moved any faster I think we would have felt sick. By the end we all agreed we just had that feeling like we had been in the car for too long.

But it was a clear day and the views were ridiculous.

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Facing north, the Yonge Street corridor

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Looking northeast

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East along Lake Ontario

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South towards the US (and we could actually see Rochester NY!)

That little arrow that I’ve added is to point out the Natrel Rink where Hannah and I were skating last week.

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Facing southwest, Toronto Island airport to the left

So the views were just beautiful. I am very glad we ate up there. Definitely worth the price. If you’re in Toronto and are planning on doing the CN Tower thing, I highly recommend going to the restaurant. Lunch was pretty delicious also. Not only the most expensive lunch I have ever had, but also probably the biggest. It was a full three-course meal.

I started with the shaved Niagara prosciutto and sundried tomato crostini.

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Which was just amazing. And that on its own is probably just a bit less than what I usually eat for lunch.

For my main I chose the pan seared salmon and PEI mussels, with fingerling potatoes and some other vegetables kicking around

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It was good but it didn’t blow me away. I think only because it was salmon. I don’t think I have ever been blown away by salmon. Dessert was incredible though.

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Dark chocolate lava cake with milk chocolate ice cream. Seriously rich and seriously delicious. I was full after my main and that cake just did me in. It was so good I ate every last bite.

Once we finished lunching the four of us wandered (waddled) over to the observation decks. First up was the glass floor.

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Which is directly over the Ripley’s Aquarium that Evan and I went to on Valentine’s Day. Please note that is over 1000 feet down to the ground. I felt very brave standing on it. Evan has a bit of a height fear (I’d make fun of him but it’s how I feel about spiders so I understand), and he said that his legs turned to jello instantly when he was going to step onto the glass and he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He told me later that he was really grateful I didn’t drag him onto the glass.

I probably would have, but I had a partner to go on it with me.

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A bunch of kids were lying down on it, and I considered this, but I was concerned with the amount of people walking on the glass with their dirty winter boots… The glass floor was definitely cool though.

And then we headed over to the lookout area…

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And took a bunch of romantic photos.

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The two photos above were taken with Corey’s DSLR if you are wondering about the jump in quality from my iPhone pics. Kind of makes me want to break out the good camera for future adventures. But I’m lazy.

There were some vidoes, etc. going on as well detailing how the CN Tower was built, so that was pretty interesting. It was built back in 1976, before even Corey was born! so the method was impressive. Coincidentally The Toronto Star just wrote an article about it yesterday, and said that it was built to last for 300 years.

Eventually we took the elevator back down to the base and explored the exhibits down there. Apparently the CN Tower is struck by lightning 75 times a year (shown in these pics!) and that is what the below photos are depicting…

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There was also a giant moose dressed like a mountie.

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Em’s just giving me a boost so I can ride it. She’s a good friend.

Being a tourist in your own city is a fun time! This winter is killing me softly, so indoor adventuring is key to keep the winter funk from creeping in. Next up, Casa Loma! Or possibly the art gallery. Orrr the museum. I’ll keep you posted.

Birthday Tubing & the Boot Scootin’ Boogie

On Saturday my good friend Sherrie turned the big 2-9, and quite the birthday celebration ensued. I am not sure how she’s going to top it next year when she turns dirty thirty, but knowing Sherrie I’m sure she’ll figure out a way.

Evan and I met up with Sherrie and some of her closest friends on Saturday afternoon at Lakeridge Ski Resort, aka my old stomping grounds, for some snow tubing!

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Sherrie and her luscious mermaid locks are right up front.

I haven’t been skiing for years (though the last time I went I also hadn’t been for years and as soon as I was on my skis I felt like I had never stopped), but I have never been tubing before. I have always wanted to do it, so I am very glad Sherrie chose it as her birthday activity and forced me out there. Evan had never been either.

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You are pulled up to the top of the hill, and then you ride your tube down, with up to six fellow tubers at a time.

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We had seven people in our group, so we had to split up.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as intense as a rollercoaster, and that’s what I got. I can not believe how fast we went and how much fun it was. I could do nothing but scream my face off the entire way down.

The way up was a little more leisurely…

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Relaxin’

I was afraid I was going to fall out of my tube, or my tube was going to come unhooked and I would slide down the hill knocking into everyone and bringing them down with me… much like my very first ski experience on the bunny hill tow rope which we will not talk about because it was one of my most embarrassing moments. But I was all good. I stayed in my tube and my tube stayed hooked up.

Surprisingly, the most embarrassing thing didn’t happen to me, it happened to the guy who worked there. There were four of us going down together and he was standing in front of all our tubes to stop us from sliding down while we waited for the people in front of us. But somehow our group started sliding, and we slid into him and totally took him out. He fell directly on top of us and almost came down the hill with us. He bailed at the last second, but we saw the fear in his eyes. I don’t think I have ever seen someone look so afraid. When we got to the top and saw him again he said that was the first time he has ever fallen on a group of tubes like that. I’m glad it was ours because it was hilarious.

Eventually we stopped for dinner, and I had my second poutine in two days from the chalet.

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They are not both mine. But the bigger one is. I did not realize when I ordered it that it was going to be a full dinner-sized plate piled with fries and that amount of cheese and gravy. In hindsight maybe not the best idea. Good thing I worked it off with all that physical activity! (not) Ordering poutine is a tradition for me at Lakeridge. I was in the ski club in high school and that’s where we skied, and I always, always got a poutine. Every single time. So, you can’t mess with tradition.

After the tube party we headed back to Sherrie’s to get ready for our big night out with the birthday girl. We were unleashing our inner country at The Corral!

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I have talked about the Corral before and how much we like it there. It is our favourite country bar. And actually that last time I just linked to I was with Sherrie and her friends also.

When we all went out to Lonestar a couple weekends ago I distinctly remember everyone being like “we’re going to all be wearing our western gear at the Corral, right? Let’s dress like cowboys!” and then it would seem I was the only one who followed through with that and dressed like a cowgirl. I had a bit of a Legally Blonde moment, like everyone told me it was a costume party but then I was the only one who dressed up.

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Alright, not really. I just wanted to post that. Evan was clad in plaid also, and when you put a cowboy hat on him he looked like he was ready to go for a ride on his tractor.

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That is probably my favourite picture ever taken of him. He had a realllllly good time.

Sherrie and I have a long history with the Corral.

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Circa 2005

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Circa Saturday night

I love my Sher Bear. And I love that she brought a bucket with her to drink out of. Bucket party of one. Normally that would be cause for getting kicked out of the Corral (they are strict), but on Saturday they seemed to like our shenanigans and Sherrie’s bucket. I guess because we are older, and therefore wiser.

You know my friends and I love our props, and Sherrie brought a pretty awesome one. Sometimes when we are on the dance floor we like to do the fish move. She will cast an invisible fishing rod and I will be the fish and it will hook me and I will dance over to her as she reels me in like I am her catch of the day. It’s not even as cool as it sounds, but it is kind of funny. Well no worries, this time we didn’t have to pretend. Sherrie brought a fishing rod along, so she could actually catch me and reel me in for real.

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We even hooked a few plaid strangers.

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Not sure if that beats the saxophone, but it is definitely up there. Sherrie also had an inflatable monkey, which is the hit of every party.

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And we brought a blow-up birthday ring toss game.

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And that gentleman in plaid is Sherrie’s birthday twin.

There were dance floor parties, as there always are.

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And my favourite moment of the night is a toss up between when Sherrie and her friend Alicia got the ENTIRE dance floor to line dance to Boot Scootin’ Boogie, or when we had a dance floor dance-off and I won when I pulled out the dance floor air guitar.

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Photo from a different dance floor air guitar long ago, but also at the Corral. Basically same thing.

Or when Evan gave the singer of the band the cowboy hat, and he wore it and then put it on the end of his guitar for a bit.

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And the reason that moment was so awesome is because Evan was just ecstatic about the whole thing.

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It was a hilarious and amazing night. I had so much fun.

And then we came home and Sherrie made Kraft dinner, because she makes it THE BEST!

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So a really healthy day of eating coupled with my ginormous poutine. But I have managed to drag myself to the gym three times this week so…it counteracts, right? RIGHT?!

Anyway, good times. So glad Sherrie had a great birthday!

The Skate Date

It’s a long weekend here (Monday is “Family Day”) so I have taken a couple days vacation to make it an extra long weekend. I got started yesterday with a skating date with my pal Hannah.

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You may remember Hannah from the time the two of us went to a cat show (and had the best day ever)

We ventured downtown in the early afternoon to the Natrel Rink at Habourfront Centre, right on Lake Ontario. I have not been skating for years and years, but I was immediately taken back to my days of pretending I was Kristi Yamaguchi.

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Just like riding a bike.

I fell a LOT, but not necessarily because I am a horrible skater (though I was a little rusty), more because I have no regard for my own safety and I get a bit daring and try to attempt the spins I was able to do as a child in the thick of my figure skating lessons. It did not work out every time (read: most times). But it was very fun.

It was absolutely gorgeous outside, or at least gorgeous for this winter. Especially considering it has been either -30 or a crazy snowstorm since November. Minus three and sunny felt like summer compared to that.

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I have definitely been hanging inside a lot this winter due to the crap weather, so it was great to get out and be active. Even the ducks and the swans were enjoying the sunshine.

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They are beautiful. I would like to have a pet swan. That is one pet that Winnie might actually go for…

Hannah’s roommate and her boyfriend met up with us, and the four of us had a skate party for about three hours. I have forgotten how much I missed skating. I want to get out more often. It felt like just yesterday I was skating on the lake where I grew up (and accidentally blowing across it).

Hannah and I practiced our ice dance routines…

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I’m a very graceful skater, I know this.

We took a break midway through and headed in to the Habourfront restaurant for beer, wings, and my favourite Canadian delicacy, poutine.

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Ohh yes. It has been far too long since I have eaten poutine.

It was such a fun wintry day.

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Now, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all from my Nana!

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She took a card that a child had made for her, whited out the original name, added “Nana” and gave it to me one year for Valentine’s Day. I will cherish it forever and ever (full story here). Have a great day filled with love and chooclate!

I hope you like butterflies (Niagara Butterfly Conservatory)

I am continuing from where I left off after Part 1 of our Niagara Falls experience. Overnight on Sunday the temperature dropped about 20 degrees, so while it was enjoyable to be outside on Sunday, Monday was the opposite. It was absolutely frigid. We attempted to walk off our huge IHOP breakfast (we had a coupon included with our hotel) and make our way back down to the falls, but we abandoned that mission about 20 feet from our hotel. Being outside was out. Being outside for more than two minutes made me feel like I was gonna die.

But we weren’t ready to go home just yet. We tossed around a few activity ideas: glow-in-the-dark mini-putting? (we can do that anywhere); wax museum? (I hear it’s lame); tour of the power plant? (Evan’s dream, but closed for the season). Eventually we decided on this:

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The tropical paradise that is the butterfly conservatory. And the best/cheesiest part about this activity is…it was just like our second date at Allan Gardens (almost on the same day also). Minus kahlua, of course, and plus butterflies. A TON of butterflies. Apparently over 2,000 of them. I have never seen so many butterflies!

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They were everywhere. As soon as we walked into their steamy, tropical lair they were flying all over the place and basically surrounding you.

Evan was really excited for the butterflies.

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I actually felt a little bit afraid at times when a butterfly as big as a bird would start flapping around my face…but for the most part I was a fan of all the butterflies.

If you stayed still long enough, they would flutter over and land on you…

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You saucy brave butterfly.

I felt like Snow White surrounded by all the butterflies.

Or you could cheat and coax the butterfly onto your finger.

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Without touching their wings, of course, because that is bad for the butterflies.

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We both said that the butterfly conservatory was the highlight of our Niagara trip. I am so glad we decided to do this, it was extremely cool and it just made me feel warm and happy all over. Kind of how wine makes me feel.

We stayed and wandered through the lush greenery for an hour or so, just soaking up the atmosphere. Really not much else to say, but I have a ton of pictures, so enjoy the views. Most of these were taken by Evan.

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Monarch, my favourite!

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❤ What a beaut.

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Peek-a-butterfly

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The miracle of life.

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Like a tropical rainforest.

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Waterfalls.

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Turtles.

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Lovers.

I could have stayed in there with the butterflies all day long. I also kept thinking that I would not have minded living in there at all and I could totally live my life as a butterfly.

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They’re just living the dream in their little conservatory. It was a good, good time. If you’re visiting Niagara Falls, the butterfly conservatory is a MUST!

Have a great weekend!