Thursday, July 30, 2015

18 month // 4 year UPDATE

I feel like this is a big one.

My tiniest human is not even a baby anymore. She forms sentences, eats with a fork, walks up the stairs, rides a tricycle... It's official I have two "kids". And my first born... is... FOUR. When did this happen? I HAVE A KINDERGARTEN-ER. I am buying backpacks and lunch bags. Who am I, an old lady? Life is too fast.

So what's new in their lives?

Here's Oliver at his first ever SUMMER CAMP!
Well, we've been busy. We've only just returned from a fantastic cottage trip and already we're embarking on another this coming weekend. But before that we have a number of fun things planned, to celebrate Oliver's birthday.

Tonight Oliver has an exciting dinner date with his Aunty Angela. I hear he's requesting hamburgers.
Tomorrow Oliver is having dinner and a movie (Minions I think) with his Uncle Curt & *new* Aunty Jen. Their wedding is next weekend and my kiddos are the ring bearer and flower girl (heart attack now).
A bug bite sent Ollie's hand to Hulk-size
Then Saturday is Oliver's big birthday party. He asked to have the theme "Home Alone". To any other parent this might have been a concerning response, but we know how obsessed he is with this movie. We actually have a rule in the house you're allowed to say "ass" if it's in reference to "come and get me you horse's ass" from the movie. You're also allowed to say "shut up" if it's in Bugs Bunny's voice like "ahhhh shaddap" or if it's for the song Shut up and Dance with me. We OFTEN use references like "KEVIN!", "Aw, you're cookin' Frank", "You've been smoochin' with everyone", "Keep the chance ya filthy animal", "I made my family disappear!" and "I'd rather kiss a toilet seat!" So we'll have a nice big group over on Saturday and play some games, eat some food, the usual.

An early birthday gift Ollie got - a playground! (Photo taken by him) 
Oliver has been a good little, bad little boy lately. When he's on-point he is fantastic. The best son you could ask for. A charmer, a genius, a sensitive soul... five star in every way. However, if he's ticked off about not getting his way and/or tired and/or hungry, he is diabolical in a way that four year olds ought not to know how to be. Examples of things he's done out of anger: peed in a basket of clean laundry and hidden it away so I didn't notice while it was still wet (luckily the smell gave it away - REWASH ON SANITIZE MODE PLEASE!), stolen Calvin's ipod and hidden it in his room, put moisturizer on my toothbrush when I wasn't looking, poured his ice water into the last 2 inches of my hot coffee just before I went to sip it, and yell "I hate you bad mommy." So, we are certainly not without our challenges, but honestly, I was prepared for the hard days and the good ones make it worth it. In general he's happy and wonderful, but for about 15 minutes twice a week, he's just too smart to be left alone.

The blue slurpee a friend shared with him at baseball didn't exactly dye his tongue the way he hoped
Dakota daydreaming in a swing
Dakota is acting more like a two year old in every area. She runs at top speed, she talks so well, she sings just beautifully (nothing else in this world can break my heart more, it is the sweetest sound and she'll crack a smile if she notices you looking, oh mercy I need a video of this to watch on repeat daily)... She also sleeps and eats like a professional. Allow me to explain her typical day:
8:00am: Dakota wakes up, she cries out for me to come get her and is holding her pink blankie up by her face.
8:05am: Dakota eats 2 scrambled eggs, 1 cup of blueberries, an almond milk smoothie and a cup of water.
9:45am: Dakota eats 2 slices of white cheddar, 6 brown rice Triscuits, a handful of halved grapes and a spoon of peanut butter.
10:00-11:30am: Nap
12:00pm: Dakota eats 1 cup of whole wheat pasta with 3 strips of cooked chicken, a pile of green peas, half a banana, and 1 piece of whole wheat garlic bread, and drinks a cup of water.
1:45pm: Dakota eats the other half of the banana and a can of dill-flavoured tuna.
2:00-3:30pm: Nap
4:00pm: Dakota eats an almond granola bar and a handful of cranberries.
5:30pm: Dakota eats a whole pork sausage (chopped) and 2 servings of eggplant casserole, and a side garden salad with dressing.
7:45pm: Dakota eats a bowl of brown rice krispies and a peach yogurt.
8:00pm-8:00am: Sleep

I'd honestly like to see this plugged into a nutrition analysis. The girl is a tank for her age.

I love this, Oliver is using the pretend gun and Dakota's like "Hey any quarters in here?"
Edited to add: I plugged it into a calorie counter and got 3,444 calories for the day, although it's definitely wrong because it calculated a cube of cheddar cheese at 1,500 kcal and a Tablespoon of peanut butter at 700 kcal. Online it says her age group needs about 1,000 per day although I don't agree with recommending a number of calories for a young child.

Either way, it's recommend they get the following:
Grains: 3 oz
Veggies: 1 cup
Fruits: 1 cup
Milk: 2 cups
Meat & Beans: 2 oz

So looking at that...
Grains - Triscuits, pasta, garlic bread, granola bar, rice krispies  (5 svgs)
Veggies: green peas, egg plant casserole (with tomato sauce) x2, garden salad (4 svgs)
Fruits: blueberries, grapes, banana, cranberries (4 svgs)
Milk: almond milk, cheese, yogurt (3 svgs)
Meat & Beans: almond milk, peanut butter, chicken, tuna, sausage (4 svgs)

So... we're doing great! Haha.






We found a sweet hammock outside of a taco truck in downtown Huntsville, it was right on the water


The three of us accidentally wore matching outfits to the mall near Toronto


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Guest post: Paleo and me

Dave Grant is many things - my friend, my husband's friend, my wedding photographer, my only connection to Hawaii (he used to live there), a great bonfire hoster, my favourite nurse from BC, and most recently - an awesome food/nutrition blogger! I've really enjoyed following Dave's pursuit of health and wellness on his blog - The Primal Cave Man - and I asked him if he could share about his journey for all the My Idea of Happiness readers. Enjoy... And when you're done reading, click over to his blog for tons more awesome reading, including maple coconut fruit salad, mmm!


******************************



I’ve been asked to write up a post about what it means to be Paleo and what it has done for me and my health.   This will repeat some stuff I have already wrote about, but hopefully it will be a clear succinct picture of my journey so far. 
Where to start I suppose?
I’ve been big all my life.  Not necessarily overweight, but big. Husky as they say.  And by all my life I guess it really happened when I hit puberty, until then I was just a skinny little grom who had way too much energy and loved climbing trees.  When I hit puberty I got big boned. Big shoulders, thick neck, big legs, strong back.  I spent all my formative years running around the hills of Northern Ontario, jumping off cliffs, and generally putting my body through boot camp on a regular basis.  Then one day my built-in male-lack-of-thinking-and-safety was operating in overdrive and I tried to jump a four foot wall while wearing roller blades and my life changed forever.   After that day I went from a fly by the seat of my pants and relying on sheer dumb luck to make it through any issues, to being essentially bed ridden, depressed and packing on the weight quicker then you can say WHATTT????
When I jumped that wall I of course didn’t make it.  I ended up giving myself a good old fashion double spiral compound fracture to my right arm.  This required five surgeries, 2 different plates, 13 screws, a prosthetic elbow and a bone marrow transplant from my hip to my arm, because so much bone had been pulverized.  It took an initial 8 months of surgeries, physio and recuperation to get myself to some semblance of normal and more then 3 years to get some previous normal strength back to that arm.  
During that first year, I became extremely depressed and turned to food and coke and star wars to get me through.  I hid in my basement room, turned the lights off, basked in the soft glow of the TV and memorized the original trilogy front to back.  I drank coke by the gallons and my favorite snack was Doritos or a huge plate of cheese, meat and crackers.  In that 8 months or so I went from a stable, healthy 240 pounds, which I had been for the last 6 or so years with barely any movement, to creeping on 350 pounds.  That’s an estimation because the scale and I were not aquainted for a very long time, simply because my inability to even care.   Years later, when I finally decided it was time to care, I was at 375 pounds, where I stabilized for a few more years. 
During university and beyond I have tried at various times to lose weight.  Most notably would be the year of 2008 where I got myself a trainer and lost 40 pounds, only to quickly put it back on.  Then again 2 years ago where I lost 80 pounds, again only to put it right back on.   I could argue and justify and make excuses, but in the end I simply went back to eating what I wanted, never really thinking about what I was putting in to my body and the weight just settled back on like a long lost friend.
Enter Paleo.  
This time around, since mid March of this year, I have so far lost 70 pounds, and can easily see another 60 coming off and actually getting to my dream of 240 pounds all over again.  Wouldn’t that be crazy?  So what exactly am I doing?
As close as I can describe it I am following the Paleo/Primal/Whole Food lifestyle.   I can’t give it a very clear “it is this specific food lifestyle”, even though I mostly describe myself as Paleo to avoid an over abundance of already numerous blank stares.  Essentially it boils down to this for any of the above mentioned groups:  Eat the best that you can.  Make everything you eat, or at least be able to pronounce and understand the ingredients.  Attempt to have grass fed/grass finished meat, or pasture raised etc.  Eat a lot of veggies, local if you can. And drink lots of water.   You are attempting to cut out all processed foods, sugars (except those naturally derived from fruit etc). Limit carbs and nutrient light foods, opting instead for maximizing nutrient dense foods that your body is tailor made to process. 
The whole Caveman label that comes with being Paleo is a bit misleading.  It causes an image of heavy clubs and mastodon meat smoking in caves and being the main source of food.  Really it is an attempt to give an easy description to a way of being.  The theory is that as humans we are adapted to eat a certain way.  The Farm Revolution began about 10, 000 years, give or take a few, while man has been eating what he could scavenge for a few million years before that.  The theory is that we are evolved to eat meat, nuts and seeds and other foods, while being particularly un-evolved to eat dairy, grains and legumes.   – Authors note: to read a much more in-depth description google the Paleo Diet.
Of course, each one of us is unique and has unique nutritional needs.  If you are loving your pastas and legumes and cheese, I am happy for you. And even slightly jealous.  However, I am finding more and more that I just don’t do well with those things at all.  As much as my mind and my taste buds love a good pasta with meat sauce and parmesan served with butter dripping garlic bread, my stomach says otherwise, and for once I intend to actually listen to it.   For me, especially with weight loss goals that are fairly extreme, I follow these guidelines, which I have sorted out through trial and error and continue to modify as needed:
  • Avoid grains at all costs
  • Limit fruit intake – not that they are bad, but they do have a lot of sugars
  • Zero processed foods. – If I can’t pronounce the ingredient, or know what it is, I probably shouldn’t have it
  • Water and coffee are my main sources of hydration
  • No legumes when possible – not that I always know what a legume is really
  • No dairy.
  • No cheese – I know this is a dairy, but in my mind it is it’s own category. BECAUSE I FREAKING LOVE CHEESE.  It is my kryptonite
  • As of this week no more Alcohol.  Again lots of sugars and empty calories, but oh so tasty.  
I think that is my list.  There may be a few more things, but I can’t think of them right now.  My triggers to not eat the way I should are sugars, cheese and chips.  I try to avoid them at all costs, because even the smallest treat will begin a spin cycle that can last an hour or two or a few days, until I get tired of feeling sick and bloated.   Seriously.  I have a hard time eating just one when it is any of those things  
This lifestyle change has led to some major changes in my life and in the way my wife and I cook and think of food.  On the very practical level most of our cookbooks are no longer applicable, or need some creative solutions – Sorry Jamie Oliver, we love you, but just can’t really open up your comfort food cook book anymore.  This has led to bringing fun back into the kitchen though, at least for me, I can’t speak for my wife, but assume (read: Hope) she feels the same.  I am discovering ingredients I never knew about, finding different taste profiles and combinations, exploring umami and what it means to my cooking and generally having great fun mucking about in the kitchen.
On a health level, I am seeing some very encouraging results.  First, I am slowly continuing to lose weight, and when I am not eating the cleanest, I am at least being successful and keeping the weight off.  I am not going to bed with that familiar lead ball in my gut. Secondly,  I am finding that when I eat clean my moods are more stable, my energy levels are higher and more level and generally speaking I am a much more happy person to be around, being a much less grumpy bear then usual.  
I am also learning to listen to my body and am beginning to understand what it has been trying to desperately tell me for the last number of years.   You know that lead ball after eating way too much pasta? Or that food coma after Thanksgiving dinner?  Those are becoming less, even non-existent.  Sure some of it was from over-eating, but on the days when I allow a little bread or pasta or some other grain into my life, even the smallest amount triggers that feeling.  It’s crazy.  If I feel like that every time I have the smallest piece of bread, that should obviously be some sort of wake up call, shouldn’t it?   It takes a few days to get over having one meal with grains in it.  The same goes for dairy, and I assume for legumes – but again I don’t really know what those are.  
When I don’t drink enough water, I can feel it right away.  My skin dries out, I don’t sleep as good.  My energy waxes and wanes like a bad Shakespeare rip-off.  My naturapath recently informed me that I should be drinking approximately half my weight in ounces. Right now that means I should be drinking 155 ounces of water a day… let me tell you I sure do pee a lot!. But I do notice a difference.  
One of the big things for me, especially while trying to lose weight, is that since I am eating clean, and really only giving my body the things it needs, I don’t have to count calories, or stress about what I am eating.  I keep proportions normal, keep fruit and alcohol out of the mix, and be very sparingly with the added sugars (like honey and maple syrup).  This alone helps with my goals. I don’t live under the guilt of when I do slip up and I don’t work myself into a nervous wreck about what I am eating and how many calories something has.  
Next I have to start working out more, but then again eating right and losing weight and having my energy levels be higher should only help with that next step.
Overall I am happier, fitter and my marriage has even improved.  Since it isn’t a diet, but rather a lifestyle, I should theoretically always be able to keep the weight off. I don’t go to bed with a lead ball in my gut, or gas my wife right out of the room.  I sleep better, love life more, and can do more and for longer.   I don’t stress about calories or what I am eating. I feel full, but not heavy. I don’t suffer from food comas or sugar crashes.  I don’t know what else to say to explain why this lifestyle is working for me.  
Just to reiterate. The caveman diet is not just about meat, although I do have meat with most meals. It is about getting my body what it needs, in a healthy, safe, non GMO or steroid induced way. It supports local growers and sowers and I know exactly what I am putting into my body.  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen experimenting, and since I love to cook that is a good thing.  I eat meat yes, but I eat so many veggies I don’t even know what is happening. I have probably eaten more vegetables in the last 6 months then I have in the last 10 years ( I once weighed my average veggie intake and it was almost 3 pounds).  I am finding the natural taste of my food is more and more rich, with greater depth, then I ever have experienced, and am preferring that over the fake chemical taste, I used to crave so much.    I am gardening, with this year being the first year I am growing my own lettuce and beets and herbs.   
Following Paleo is changing my life.  I am losing weight, becoming much more conscious of what I put into my body and am becoming a better person for it. 
Cheers. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Have you tried these "top 100 foodie foods"?

I came across this list of the top 100 "Foodie" foods and had to check out how many I'd tried.

Turns out I've had almost all of them! Here are some memories I have of each....

Banh Mi Thit -- Yes, although not a good, authentic one
Pho -- Yes, a number of times at Viet/Thai restaurants around town and then also a few months of my life that consisted of pho ramen bowls (the kind you just add hot water to) for lunch at work or school, daily
Country Pate -- Yes, including while pregnant (oops)
Coq Au Vin -- Yes, homemade
Moules Frites -- separtely but not together as a dish
Haggis -- No, maybe soon!
Sweetbreads -- No, but I would
Roasted Bone Marrow -- No, but I soooo would
Bagels and Lox -- Yes, this is a family favourite in our house
Pulled Pork -- A ka-trillion times, now that we have a smoker this will be a regular rotation item
Brisket -- Yes, actually we serve a nice one at my workplace, I always love the smell of it wafting into my office
Soft Shell Crab -- Yes, had a great one at a small seafood restaurant in Florida, I love how you just eat the whole thing, skeleton and all
Raw Oysters -- Yes, and now that Loblaws has an oyster bar for $1.29ea I may more often
Philly Cheese Steak -- Another hot item in our house, we do phillys with steak, peppers, onions, mushrooms, cheese and BBQ sauce a few times a month
Pastrami on Rye -- Yes, had a great one made by a co-worker not long ago, with sauerkraut, mmm!
Taco Lingua -- Nope, never had tongue at all
Paneer Butter Masala -- Yes, paneer is the best
Paella -- Yes, this was my go to at the buffets in Cuba, just watch out for shells!
Jerk Chicken -- Yes, we recently finished a bottle of authentic jerk paste from Barbados (thanks to my sister who did a placement there) - we also did jerk chicken satays for Dakota's first birthday party which had an "islands" theme
Key Lime Pie -- Yes, I remember making a really, really bush-league one on vacation once, out of ingredients we happened to have kicking around (like limes we'd just picked at an orchard, eggs that were for breakfast, sugar stolen from the lobby's coffee bar, and butter that came with someone's sandwich order earlier in the week!), it was way too eggy, but usually I make a good one
Huevos Rancheros -- Yes, the best one I had was at a Mexican place in Toronto before a hockey game
Gumbo -- Yes, I love
Goulash -- Yes, I love too
Gazpacho -- Yes, it's good when you're in the mood for it
Chicharones -- No, WHY NOT, I think I should attempt this recipe (so much work)
Fried Catfish -- Yes, a hole in the wall place in Florida had a combo platter of cat fish, alligator, frog and something else, maybe shark? Much enjoyed.
Dulce de leche -- Always. I like to make a homemade version from canned condensed milk
Clam Chowder -- Yes, much
Chile Relleno -- I think so...
Chicken and Waffles -- Oh yes, and a glorious gluten-free option once also
Lechon -- Yes and no, I've had a whole, roasted suckling pig before, on vacation, but I don't think it was done in the typical Lechon style
Spring Rolls -- Oh yeah, had some last weekend
Parma Ham -- Yes, Angelos used to carry it at their lunch bar and you could just grab a slice for like 20 cents, a friend taught me that - good tip
Roti Prata -- Yes, I went to a stirfry place in Chicago that would place roti on the side with your stirfry, I thought that was interesting
Laksa -- Probably, I've had a number of spicy Chinese-influenced seafood soups but I don't always know the name of what I'm eating
Bulgogi -- Kind of! I make this at home with leftover beef all the time, but I thought the recipe was my own creation until I realized it was basically a spot on bulgogi
Crepe nutella -- Yes, there's an awesome crepe place in St. Thomas near where I work and I've had their nutella crepe
Gyoza -- Yes, homemade that actually turned out quite well - gluten free!
Fried Chicken -- Yes yes yes, Calvin is so good at knowing when it's done frying even though it's a tricky thing to gauge
Fish n Chips -- Yes
Satay -- Yes, 2 nights ago in fact
Kimchi -- I think I have but can't remember a specific instance
Massaman Curry -- I don't know!
Peking Duck -- Yes
Dim Sum -- Yeah there was an inexpensive dim sum place near my highschool that I frequented
Som Tam -- I think so if this is that shredded papaya salad
Pad Thai -- Only a million times
Poutine -- So much, this was a common lunch my mom would make if my sisters and I came home for lunch during elementary school, we went nuts for it, always Swiss Chalet gravy
Kobe Beef -- Yes, Cal and I love to buy the kobe burgers when they're available at Loblaws
Caviar -- Yes, can't remember specifically where
Montreal Smoked Meat -- Yep, even in Montreal at that one famous place
Bangers and mash -- Yes, we do this quite a bit for dinner
Easy Shepherd's Pie -- As opposed to challenging Shepherd's Pie? I've had just run-of-the-mill SP...
Arepas -- Yes. Love. Favourite place - the Mexican convenience store on Dundas (Mercado Latino)
Ceviche -- Yes, my dad ordered this blindly in Florida one night, he liked it
Souvlaki -- This week even
Mexican Street Corn -- Not in Mexico (I've only been "off the resort" once in Mexico and got a coffee, not street corn) but I've made a similar thing at home on the BBQ
Empanada -- Yes yes yes, want one right now
Poke -- No
Lobster Roll -- Yes but not at McDonalds or Subway ha ha
Sichuan Hot Pot -- Yes!
Samosa -- Mmm, yes, a nurse at work made homemade ones to share a week or two ago
Tagine -- Yes, obviously not homemade though :)
Bao -- Kind of! I've made my own version at a buffet using their steamed buns
Tamales -- Yes, same story as the ceviche, my dad ordered it not knowing what it was
Currywurst -- No! Had curry, had wurst, not currywurst!
Schnitzel -- Yes, delish
Mango & Sticky Rice -- Separately for sure, but can't remember if I've had them together
Churrasco -- Oh yeah, legit churrasco in Brazil
Creme Brûlée -- Yes
Beignets -- Not real New Orleans ones, YET, but a trip is planned
Po'Boy -- Yes, shrimp, yesss!
Muffaletta -- Yes, like a homemade version
Cioppino -- I don't think so
Lowcountry Boil -- Yes
Fish Taco -- Course, I've had them at the most popular fish taco place - Wahoo in So-Cal.. I think Mailbu
Baklava -- Yes, missed out on it this year at Opa Fest because it was raining
Osso Buco -- Yes
Risotto -- Yes, make it all the time
Tagliatelle al ragù -- Yes
Geoduck -- No!
Scallops -- Yes, love ordering them at a restaurant
Calamari -- Yes, Cal and I discovered the calamari is nice at Beertown so we order it often as an app to share
Baba Ghanoush -- Yes, bought and homemade
Falafel -- Yes, a favourite
Pork Belly -- Yes
Shrimp and Grits -- Yes, I keep cornmeal around just in case I get a craving for it
Boudin -- I don't think so
Jambalaya -- Yep, a restaurant called Jambalaya in London makes a great one
Italian Beef -- Yes
Corned Beef and Cabbage -- Yes, makes the house smell great ha ha
Yorkshire Pudding -- Yes, I used to make these a lot when I was a dietary planner for the YMCA
Challah Bread -- Yes
Matzo Ball Soup -- I actually don't think I have!
Hummus -- Naturally..
Ratatouille -- Yes!
Foie gras -- I'm sure I have but I can't remember the details
Clafouti -- Yeah I made one 2 days ago and have the leftovers in the fridge right now, rainier cherry
Cassoulet -- Yes
Mac and Cheese -- ... Yes ...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

17 month / 47 month update

Next month when the kids are 1.5 and 4 years old I think I'll switch to doing updates every 6 months. I just have trouble thinking up enough stuff to write every 30 days!

Dakota's biggest update is that she's a huge joker. Here are her 3 top jokes:
1. When a dog, dinosaur, lion etc growls on TV she walks on up with pure attitude and one finger out like she's going on scold them and then growls back. She knows it's funny because she looks at me.
2. She likes to pull the Bible away when I'm reading it to her and open it over her face and tell "Anyone? anyone? Mama?" Like she's trying to call out for help from being buried.
3. She will wave at someone walking a dog and if they wave back she shakes her head no and then points at their dog. It's the best one.

Here is Oliver's update:

He is so amazing. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Emojis We Demand

I'm always pleased when I add a friend to my phone and they're an iPhone user so I know we can send emojis to each other. In fact, my youngest sister and I have been known to write full stories, movies or songs to each other with just emojis. They are a big deal to me.

That said, we are definitely missing some important ones.

Below is my list of 25 emojis that we need to demand pronto. Do you have any you'd like to add to the list?

Great white shark (breaching if possible)
Dinosaur
A taco
Someone looking sideways
Someone throwing something
A vegetable plant
A tornado
A pineapple
Kombucha
A steak
A non-chocolate donut
A pool
A beach
A bigger coffee
An emoji that shows Easter
A newborn baby
An acoustic guitar
A paintball gun
A pick up truck
A paddle boat
Better sunglasses
A shopping bag
Someone in a straight jacket
A symbol that says NOPE
A reusable water bottle

Thank you. Mic drop.


UPDATE: Upon further investigation here are some good additions: puking, hockey stick, Beyonce, middle finger, beard, skateboard,

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Top Things to do at a Cottage up North

We have a family cottage near Huntsville, Ontario. We've pretty much become masters at the best things to do while on vacation in the Muskokas. Here are our top favourite activities. 

Naturally I must start with COFFEE. No list of cottage activities would be complete without it.
I have a special yellow mug that is MINE and MINE ALONE. If someone puts it in the dishwasher before I'm done, they pay for it!

The next amazing activity to do up north is go hiking. We do lots of hiking around the cottage and we also drive to Algonquin and do the trails there. Haven't been attacked by a bear yet! This is across the road from our place.

We definitely practice baby wearing for our hikes. (Either that or we put the little ones in a laundry basket and pull them in the snow.)
Everyone shares the load.
Sometimes the babies come along for a creepy serial killer investigation.
At Algonquin's Whiskey Rapids trail, a walking stick is necessary for all ages.
The moment when you arrive home and realize no wild animals killed you is a great one.
 
We hike all year long, no need to stay home because of a little snow.
 
It's a great workout.



Of course when you arrive home a sleep is in order. Oliver was in a sling and Dakota in a structured carrier, for this hike. Good thing we could slip them off and not wake them up.

Yes, sleeping is a definite "top activity" at the cottage. I assure you, this book was super interesting.

Pillow bed for the babes.


Sometimes they even make it into their pjs before falling asleep. Matching plaid!


 Games and puzzles are a major activity at the cottage. Risk, unfortunately, is one I am not allowed to play because I "don't take it seriously enough".
Some of the puzzles take us all week.

We love going in to town. The main road has some great stores - Algonquin Outfitters, the Nutty Chocolatier, and the gourmet sorbet truck!
 
 

FIRE WORKS! We go to a local variety store and stock up. It's always so much fun to see them go off at night, and the lake bay echos the boom.





 We get some gorgeous sunsets and sunrises.
 

You'll never catch Mom sleeping through a beautiful sunrise. She's out there with her camera capturing every one.


 We hit a nearby spring for delicious, cool water. We'll go every couple days and fill up large containers.
 
Mmmm, nothing like it.


 SOME of us, not mentioning any names, don't understand the purpose of a cottage ;)

I personally prefer to relax and centre with some yoga, all by myself on the dock. 

My sweet husband offers spa services.

We really enjoy finding new flora and fauna.
 
This water-loving plant, sweet gale, can induce strange dreams. I've tried it - It works!
 
I like making homemade tisanes.
 

Oliver finds some neat things too.


 Can't forget knitting and crocheting. A popular cottage activity.


 Food is probably the most important thing about a week at the cottage.
We have roasted chestnuts on an open fire.
We've roasted our own coffee.
We've foraged wild blueberries.
 
We make some killer breakfasts.
 
 We bake.
We shell peas that we grew.
 
And we eat a TON of ice cream.

Seriously.


 Fire is an important part of cottaging. We order a cord of wood from a local guy.

Then we need to chop it.

We use some wood for the indoor stove...

... and the rest for the camp fire.
When we're not burning marshmallows, we burn our feet.
A new way to say hello.
Not an all year activity.
 

We also go out and do excursions. This is Tree Top Trekking, a ropes course nearby.

We made the drive to our friend's family business: Long's Sugarbush. It was awesome!

And OF COURSE, boating, swimming and fishing. The quintessential cottage activities.
We canoe.
We paddle boat.
 
We jump in... with a life jacket of course.

We fish.. again, with a life jacket.
And we try to avoid the evil lake monsters.

Even the little ones get some good catches.



And lastly, a highway Starbucks on the way home.