Tag Archives: poutine

The Canadian Cottage Experience

On Friday we left Niagara in the late morning and drove up to Evan’s cottage on Rice Lake, Ontario. Cottages are super popular around here and I would say a good 60% of Ontarians have summer cottages on one of Ontario’s many lakes. If you don’t have a cottage you probably at least have a friend who has a cottage that you can lure them into bringing you to. In the other provinces they tend to call them cabins, but here it is cottage all the way. So, hitting up a cottage in the summer is VERY much a Canadian activity and it was definitely something we wanted to introduce our American friends Paula and Fabian to.

We arrived in the early afternoon, dropped off our stuff, and then hit up Golden Beach Resort, one of our cottage food haunts, for a late lunch. And when at Golden Beach Resort for the first time, this picture must happen:

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Evan and I have the same one.

We started with the shrimp flatbread, which we had not tried before.

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And man, it was GOOD. Surprisingly good. Will be ordering that again.

And Evan and I also hadn’t tried the poutine at Golden Beach but I do know their fries intimately, and they are quite good, so I assumed their poutine would be on point. I was not wrong.

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Now THAT is a Canadian poutine right there. Note the cheese curds, and the gravy was delicious. Still not the best poutine I’ve ever had, but definitely an authentic Canadian example. We were on a mission to introduce Paula and Fabian to all the Canadian foods, and we were able to check off poutine, Ketchup chips, maple cookies, and butter tarts. Just missing the Beaver Tails, Nanaimo bars and authentic maple syrup, but next time! I also got the fish from the fish and chips to go with the poutine.

It was cloudy and about to rain by the time we got back to the cottage, so we had a little nap while the weather was less than ideal.

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The cottage is made for napping. And drinking on the dock. We got started on that when we woke up and the rain had stopped.

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And once the sun came out around sunset time the sky (and the water) were just gorgeous.

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Beauty. We hung out on the dock for a while and watched Evan try to get his boat motor started. Again. Didn’t happen, but it was entertaining to watch.

It was a bit chilly out there, but we persevered. I broke out the flannel plaid jackets because nothing says Canada like flannel plaid.

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My dad used to have that same jacket that Fabian is wearing. He wore it fishing alllll the time.

We spent the rest of the night drinking, also a typical cottage activity, and once it got dark I lured everyone back down to the pitch black dock  so we could look at the stars. There is no light pollution at all at the cottage, so the stars are some of the best I’ve ever seen. It was a bit cloudy so they weren’t as awesome as I’ve experienced before, but still better than city stars.

On Saturday morning we woke up bright and early, had a decent breakfast, and headed to the Warsaw Caves!

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More on those later though because it was quite the experience and I want to do it justice.

By the time we got back to the cottage the weather was perfect!

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Perfect for drinking on the dock in the sunshine. It was so nice. We had big plans to take the canoe out, but you have to drag it from the basement down to the water and laziness won. It was also a bit cooler than it usually is this time of year, which our Florida friends were loving, but sadly meant that it was too cold to really be in the water, and too cold for the party dock. I had big visions of Paula and I floating around in that thing, drinks in hand, but it’s going to have to wait until next time (along with the Beaver Tails, Nanaimo bars and maple syrup).

We stayed outside on the dock all afternoon until it was time for dinner. Pork kabobs!

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It seems to be our thing lately. Plus salad and warm pitas with babaganouj and Greek yogurt dill dip. I also bought some rhubarb barbecue sauce (rhu-becue sauce?) from a little market we went to that morning (where we also scored butter tarts), so we had that with the pork as well. It is a lot better than it sounds.

After dinner we showered and then headed to Ajax to celebrate my friend Emily’s birthday. We went to Yuk Yuks (a Canadian comedy club) with a big group of my friends. I only thought one of the comedians we saw was really funny, Eric Andrews. He had this awkwardness going on that was making me laugh hard, and he told a joke with the same punch line three times, but the lead up to the punchline was different each time and each time was funny, so that was impressive. He said it was his goal to have the crowd chant his name, then pick him up and carry him out onto the street. When he finished one of his jokes it was Paula who got the crowd yelling “ERIC! ERIC! ERIC!” and when it died down the club was silent for just a moment and I yelled really loudly “LET’S PICK HIM UP!!!” and I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, but it really was at the perfect moment (and it kind of sounded like a “LET’S GET ‘EM!”). Evan was all “annnnd the Jambon makes an appearance…” (the ham).

After the show we saw Eric hanging around by the bar so Paula and I went over to talk to him. Since he wanted to be picked up so badly, I asked him if we could make his dream come true.

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He was all “Ohh, I don’t know, I’m uncomfortable!” but I don’t believe it. He liked it.

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And don’t let him tell you otherwise.

So that capped off a pretty amazing day. I wish we could have hung out with the group for longer but I am so glad that Paula got to meet my friends!

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Camping!

Last weekend, so two weekends ago now, my friend Sherrie organized a big camping trip for all our friends/her friends/all the friends. This was the second annual friends camping trip, and unfortunately I had to miss last year so this time I was IN. Camping is my favourite. But we had just gotten back from a very exhausting trip (I hesitate to say vacation as we were very busy every day and it wasn’t exactly relaxing, it was a trip) so an entire weekend away camping wasn’t doable for me. I had stuff to get done at home. Evan had even more stuff to do, so I just drove up myself on Saturday morning for one night.

I arrived just after noon and everyone was already up and in the water.

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I like how they’re all like “Heyyyyyyy. GET IN HERE!”

Sherrie and I actually stumbled upon this campground two years ago when we got kicked out of Algonquin Park for being too noisy. This place, Pine Grove Point, is a privately owned campground on the outskirts of Algonquin (it’s actually where Evan and I picked up our canoe from when we were backcountry camping last year), and they are much more lenient about things than provincial parks are. They actually encourage you to bring drinks down to the beach.

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And they purposely put us all at a huge site at the very pack of the campground so we are free to be loud (though I don’t know if they encourage singing Disney songs on the beach at midnight…)

I love provincial parks, and they are beautiful and all that, but almost every time I’ve camped in one I’ve gotten at least one noise complaint. So if your plan is to have more of a party time with your friends, finding a good private campground is the way to go. For me the most important aspect of a good campground is good lake swimming. Hiking trails are always nice too, but lake swimming is probably my favourite activity of all time and something that I don’t get to do every day, so I definitely cherish it. This place has the BEST lake swimming. Clear and deep. J’adore.

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It also helps that they have a bunch of floating trampolines and a floating dock. We swam for hours and hours that Saturday afternoon. It was my dream.

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My ol’ pal Sherrie

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Kim!

My friends Dawn, Mark, Emily and Corey were up for just the Friday night, so I was sad to miss them all on Saturday. But I really enjoy Sherrie’s friends, and I have hung out with them so much that I consider them my friends. And Sherrie has hung out with my friends so much that she considers them her friends. And all our friends have hung out together so much that everyone considers everyone friends. It is a great thing.

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Eventually we packed up around dinnertime and headed back to our site. I brought myself a chicken burger to grill, however I knew from experience that the camp store/snack bar at the park has really amazing poutine. Really. Amazing.

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Obviously I had to get this. It was quite large and in charge so I had to rope some friends into helping me finish it, but I don’t think they minded. People will tell you that you aren’t eating real poutine unless your fries are topped with cheese curds as opposed to shredded cheese and I will tell you right now that I disagree. I love a good cheese curd, but I really enjoy all types of cheese so I can’t discriminate. I don’t know if that poutine would have been better with cheese curds. And I don’t even know if that was real cheese. But it was pretty perfect as-is.

And if you want to catch a glimpse inside a random camping store…

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Alllll the things you could possibly need for your camping trip, just in case you forget your…cat food.

As I mentioned, our campsite was basically a huge area at the back of the campground that had been cleared of brush.

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Complete with a sleeping/tent area, an eating/fire area (good thing, since about 16 people were up at some point over the weekend so there were a lot of tents), and a GAMES AREA!

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Sherrie brought our trusty, faithful ladder ball. It is always a good time. It is especially a good time in the dark when you tie glow sticks around the three levels and throw the balls in the pitch black, hoping for the best.

We also played a lot of Euchre, which is my favourite card game of all time.

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I do not get to play nearly as often as I like because I find it difficult to get four people together who all know how to play Euchre (I actually play online – Hardwood Euchre! It is the best! If anyone has it seriously let me know, I’ll be your partner). We had a bunch of people who knew how to play though, so we had a bit of a tournament.

We also played some flip cup. Because a party is not a party unless there is flip cup. This team was undefeated.

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And they are jerks. My team never won.

Eventually we all saddled up around the fire and two of the guys broke out guitars (and a ukelele!) and serenaded us. I think they ended up hating us though, because we were all “Can you play this? Play Neil Young! But can you play THIS?! Play this, play this!” Note to self: learn how to play the guitar, and learn how to play all the campfire songs.

Last time Sherrie and I were camping there it was theme night and they turned the entire campground into Halloween (in August), complete with a haunted house. And a bunch of adults were dressed up…

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We were not so lucky this time. But it was still a fun time.

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It was raining in the morning, so we all packed up early and I was home just after noon. Just in time for Sunday leisuring before work on Monday.

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And my love for Jack Johnson lives on

So I mentioned before that Jack Johnson was coming to Toronto and I scored tickets for Evan and myself… Last Wednesday was the big day, so we headed over to Molson Amphitheatre after work for some sweet JJ action.

I really love Jack Johnson, he is a rare true artist, and he’s just my favourite. So I was excited. That might actually be an understatement, I was a little beyond excited.

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I was smiling so hard that my eyes were just a squinty mess. Also this is the first time I have ever bought a concert T-shirt. I have seen a lot of live bands that I love over the years; Incubus, Foo Fighters, Weezer, Blink182 (we got them to strip down to their boxers on stage, but that is a story for another time…), KoRn (the moshpit was the most insane experience of my life), Deftones, Silverchair, Hole (haha!), Dallas Green, etc. etc. etc. but I have never bought a concert shirt because they are always so insanely expensive that I just can’t justify it. The Jack Johnson shirt I am wearing in the above photo set me back $35, but I have no regrets about that. JJ is the best musician I have seen live and I wanted to have something to remember my experience. I still regret not buying a shirt when I saw him four years ago. Also, that’s my favourite colour. It brings out my eyes, when you can actually see them. So I had to get it.

We hadn’t eaten dinner yet and I had just been planning on getting a jumbo hotdog or something, but then I noticed The Poutinerie food truck… Annnd I can never resist poutine, so that also had to happen.

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Pulled pork poutine! Fries + cheese curds + gravy + pulled pork. Amazing. I ate the entire thing and had I been dining in the dark I would have been sticking my face in that carton to lick it afterwards. Delicious.

We settled in with our dinner to watch the opening band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

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We didn’t have the greatest seats, as you can see. We were in the last row before the lawn, but last time I saw Jack Johnson I was behind a pillar so I figured this had to be better. I would have preferred to be up front on the floor, but all good. However I do have a slight beef… On the Monday before the concert the venue actually released 100 extra tickets that were RIGHT up front and only $10 more per ticket than I paid, so I tried to call and upgrade my tix but Ticketmaster told me it was too close to the event and they couldn’t do it. I was pretty bummed about that and kind of annoyed that I had purchased my tickets so far in advance and someone could come in last minute and essentially get front row seats. Of course, life isn’t fair and what can ya do. I was really tempted to just buy two more tickets and try to sell my original ones, but in the end I just kept ours.

Anyway, Edward Sharpe and friends were really great! They kind of remind me a bit of Arcade Fire, as there are so many members of their band and there are two leads, Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos (and like Arcade Fire those two are either dating or were dating previously). They are definitely hippy-esque, which I enjoy, and they were so good live and SUPER interactive with the audience. Alex invited people from the floor area on stage with them, and they let one random guy play their guitar for an entire song.

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The guy in the white is a random fan

See, this is why it’s good to be on the floor. You never know when you might get asked to come up and be a part of the band. I’m pretty sure this experience made that guy’s life.

If you’ve never heard of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, I recommend listening to 40 Day Dream (really great song probably my favourite of theirs), and Home:

Also quite nice. I like them a lot.

But of course not as much as my (platonic) love JJ. My excitement really hit when Edward Sharpe finished up and it was Jack Johnson time.

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He’s up there somewhere!

It was kind of cold outside so Evan and I bundled up and snuggled in for the show.

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#coldandnerdy

I like the cut of Evan’s jib. He was the best concert buddy.

The following photos are stolen from aux.tv because I was just too far away to get anything decent…

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I could see him well on the screens though, and I could hear him perfectly. He was so amazing, as I knew he would be, of course. He played all my faves (except Go On, but he played it last time I saw him so it’s okay). Here is the setlist if you want to check it out. I fangirl’d out a few times and my voice was nearly gone the next day because I was singing so loud the entire time. I am so glad we went, and I’ll never forget it! Evan had a really great time too, and the next day he downloaded a bunch of JJ’s albums 🙂

I found some videos from the concert on YouTube, and this one of Jack singing Radiate from his new album is really good quality:

(it’s dark until about 10 seconds in, and then it’s all good!)

I just really like him.

You watch this video (not from Wednesday) and you tell me Jack Johnson isn’t a stand up gentleman.

I love how much of a family man he is and the obvious love he has for his wife. I love their love!

Wednesday was such a great time with my own love.

Bolded question time! What is the best band/artist you’ve seen live? Worst?
It is a dream of mine to see Neil Young, so please don’t tell me he’s not good live!

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How to Gain 10lbs in One Weekend

It is very, very easy. Allow me to demonstrate.

I recommend starting your weekend off right with a huge burrito bowl for lunch on Friday.


That was deeeeelicious. And don’t be fooled by the lettuce. That bowl also included rice, chicken, pinto and black beans, corn, cheese, two kinds of salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. So basically everything you can possibly put in a burrito bowl. I do not mess around.

Next, hopefully one of your friends will have a little potluck gathering pre-bar and will make an amazing dip that you can eat for hours and hours.

That was probably the best spinach and artichoke dip I have ever eaten. Huge credit to my friend Lauren for that warm and creamy deliciousness. I couldn’t get enough.

And if you are out with friends who you haven’t seen for six years and you don’t want the party to end, you should definitely hit up a 24-hour diner that serves everything imaginable. And poutine is always, ALWAYS a good idea, no matter what time it is (even at 3am).

I had some help finishing that, because right before I filled up with this:

A chocolate shake and poutine seemed like a really great combination when I spotted them both on the menu. And actually, my instincts were not wrong. No regrets here.

If it’s a beautiful day on Saturday, you should probably take advantage and sit out on a patio. And it’s hard to sit on a patio and not order food when everyone else around you is…

So that explains this:

I’m not sure if you’re supposed to share that, but I ate the entire thing.

And then when the people at the table next to you order the most ridiculous waffle you’ve ever seen and your eyes almost fall out of your head and you start salivating uncontrollably, you obviously have to order it too…

Because not ordering that would have been an absolute tragedy. I would have thought about it and regretted it for at least the next week. Possibly even the rest of my life. But I did split that with my friend Rebecca, so don’t worry, I didn’t get too crazy.

Oh, and you should also go out for brunch.

Twice.

After all, it’s the best meal of the day!

And you should probably drink.

Yeah, definitely need to drink.

Quite a lot.

(Best mojito I have ever had.)

And that should do it. I haven’t weighed myself, but if I’ve gained 10 pounds since Friday because of my gluttonous antics I would not be surprised. Though one of my goals since I moved to the city was to try out different restaurants, so I feel I made a decent dent in that this weekend.

Now please excuse me while I go and lie in my bed of shame. Ohh just kidding! I ran this morning. All good.

I hope you guys had a great weekend, filled with amazing eats. I had a really, really amazing one, so I still have some recapping I want to do. But for now, enjoy the food porn!

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I like to play

So on Tuesday evenings all summer, I have been playing beach volleyball in a rec league at Ashbridges Bay in Toronto. I haven’t blogged about it at all because nothing all that eventful has happened, but it has definitely been a fun time. I have been looking forward to Tuesday nights all summer long.

My friend Laura from my work building invited me to play on her team in June, and I LOVE volleyball, so I said yes puh-lease, sign me up (literally).

If you have been reading my blog for a few months you may remember me mentioning Laura and her ridiculously amazing cookies when my building was doing the cookie club thing.

I seriously still think about those cookies and how good they were. She has promised to make cookies for our end-of-season volleyball party, and I will be reminding her weekly about that until the day comes.

Anyway, the Ashbridges Bay Beach Volleyball League is run by Ontario Volleyball (who Laura actually works for), and is the biggest league I have ever been a part of. I’m not sure how many teams there are, I want to say 80? But there are about 90 courts, so a LOT of volleyball goes down.

It gets very busy.

And it is beauty because it’s right on Lake Ontario. Sometimes it’s been so hot that afterwards I have been tempted to just book it to the lake and jump in. And then I remember that it’s Lake Ontario in Toronto, and I am able to stop myself. I will swim in Lake Ontario, but usually more east. Toronto is iffy, and I don’t need an extra arm. I already have trouble controlling the two I have.

We have eight people on our team, three girls and five guys. And we play sixes so two players continually sub in, which gives everyone a nice break. We play three different teams each Tuesday, with two games per team, so six games in total. Our team is okay… We had a bit of a rough start, but we’ve been playing really well recently, so if there was an award for most improved team I think we would snag that.

Playoffs start next week, and everyone makes it, so I am excited! Hopefully we get a Participant ribbon if nothing else.

Volleyball is probably the only team sport I am moderately good at. I use the word “good” loosely though, as I’m not a pro star or anything. I am an underhand server through and through, and usually I just hit the ball and hope for the best. I don’t know how to aim it or anything.

I like this picture because it almost looks like I know what I’m doing.

But I just like to play because I have a lot of fun. And what I lack in skill I like to think I make up for in enthusiasm. I tend to get very excited over everything while we were playing, and I have been known to dive halfway across the court for a ball I have absolutely no chance of getting. But at least I get a somewhat decent workout. And no one can say anything negative about our team morale! I like to tell everyone they are awesome. Repeatedly.

Last night we won four games and lost two, which is pretty good for us, so we went out afterwards to celebrate!

There is nothing better than a cold pint after physical activity, in my opinion.

It was so refreshing I practically chugged it.

I already kind of ate dinner before volleyball, so I wasn’t particularly hungry, but as I was perusing the menu I noticed poutine was on it. And as soon as I saw it I couldn’t stop fantasizing about eating it. So…

I had to get it. It was soooooo delicious. I love poutine so, so much. And for anyone not from Canada, poutine is fries covered with cheese and gravy, but we have gone over this before. Anyway, I ate the entire thing. Even when all the fries were gone and there was only cheese and gravy left, I practically licked the bowl. No shame here.

Anyway, it was a fun night with my volleyball crew. I will be sure to let you guys know how our playoffs go!

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I Love Your Blog, Dawg.

I need to clear something up, as many of you asked in my last post. Poutine is fries covered with cheese curds and gravy. Apparently it is only a Canadian thing (and possibly a New Orleans thing?) which I don’t understand at all, as it isn’t exactly difficult to come up with. It’s fries. With cheese and gravy. I don’t know why this is such a foreign concept.

If you have never tried it, you’re missing out. It’s amazing. Just so delicious. And absolutely terrible for you, so I only have it a couple times a year. You can make it with shredded cheese too, but cheese curds are better, in my opinion. The cheese gets all melty and perfectly stringy.

Anyway, glad that’s out of the way…

Not much is new over here. My Wonderland and prom adventures are basically all I’ve been up to this week besides work stuff. And sometimes my work is exciting, but not so much right now. Right now it’s just busy. I have been glued to my computer for the past few days working on my organization’s magazine, which is a time consuming little sucker. But I do love it when it’s done and all glossy and fab looking!

So not really doing anything = I don’t have much to talk about. But thankfully a couple of my fellow bloggers tagged me in an award! This means I have things to talk about AND I don’t have to do a lot of thinking. Win-win.

It was two different awards actually, but they are basically the same thing: talk about your favourite blogs. There are a few other rules, but I am choosing to ignore them. I read a lot of blogs (usually, I have been slacking lately), so I just want to tell you about the illustrated blogs I have been loving lately, and maybe you will love them too.

Here they are:

Touch of Embellishment

I don’t remember how I discovered Erica’s blog, probably from Stephanie (who I will get to in a moment), as I seem to discover all my new blog lovers from her. But the first post I read was called Dirty Fruit Man, and it lured me in immediately.

She is a story-teller like moi, and she beautifully illustrates her posts. The facial expressions of her characters really make me laugh, and her stories remind me of my own! We have a kindred spirit for sure. Weird things definitely happen to us both (my friend Beth always tells me that she thinks weird things happen to me because I can take it, and Erica, I think you can take it too!)

Erica herself reminds me a lot of my friend Catherine (who also has a blog, Kitten The Cat), so I immediately sent Catherine the link to the dirty fruit man post and we laughed about a similar story we have from when we used to work together at Dairy Queen (I will illustrate it one day, so I can’t tell you about it just yet).

Upon discovering Erica’s blog, I read through the entire thing. I couldn’t stop. She just kills me! I talked to Catherine about it later, and she mentioned she did the same, went back and read every post. So yeah, I think Erica is awesome, and I can’t get enough of her stories. Go read her blog. Or at least this post.

Clay Baboons

I love Stephanie. I followed along with her first blog, Love Life Project, and I loved her then. I really liked that she called herself a happy-living blog, because I think I am kind of a happy-living blog as well, so I could relate. And then she started her new blog, Clay Baboons, and I cannot rave about her enough. She is ridiculously creative with all her clay figurines, and she puts so much effort into her posts.

(source)

She also may be one of the nicest people I know (and yes I do feel like I know her, it’s funny how blogging works that way. Plus, we are Facebook friends, so of course that means we are real-life friends). And she makes me laugh. That is very important.

Blunder Construction

I will be honest, I just discovered Hailey’s blog two days ago. She sent me an insanely awesome tweet about how she thought that I was funny, and then she instantly became my favourite.

Just so you are all aware, if you tell me I am funny, I will love you for life. It’s my favourite compliment. It’s even better if the person who tells you that you are funny is also funny, because it makes your funniness more legit since they are funny, and funny people should be able to recognize funniness when they see it. It is a cycle of funniness. So I went over to Blunder Construction to see if Hailey was funny so I could fully bask in the glow of her funny compliment, and oh man. She is funny.

First of all, she has an awesome cat, so we share that in common…

(That is her cat, Jelly)

She has an entire page devoted to Jelly (and she loves him so much she recently made him a cat birthday cake, and I’m probably going to copy that recipe), she has probably the best bio I’ve ever seen (and I’m probably going to copy that also), and then there is the Blank the Kitty section.

Effing genius. May also copy.

Thank you for tweeting to me Hailey, and saying that I’m funny! I’m excited that I found you.

Creative Devolution

Violet just kills me with hilariousity. I don’t even know what else to say about her. I laugh out loud every time I read her (but not LOL, I don’t do that). She is so funny and her illustrations are awesome.

This is another blog I read almost in entirety when I discovered it. And I am so impressed with how often she posts, because I know how long those drawings take! She’s amazing. And I am just in awe of her creativity. I’d like to kidnap her brain.

And I really need to give a shout-out to the beautiful Eden from Eden Eats Everything.

Her blog is not illustrated, but I love her, and she always makes me laugh. She is going through an extremely difficult time right now, as her father has a fatal brain tumour and things are just not good there… But even in the midst of dealing with that, she still makes me laugh! It has really put my own life and problems in perspective, and makes me never want to complain about anything again. If she can still find a way to be positive despite all the crappiness (understatement and a half) in her life, so can I. For sure.

So please send Eden some love. I am sure she could use all of our positive thoughts.

And I hope you enjoy the rest of these amazing bloggers as well!

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