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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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Painting + Brunching + Leisuring

On Friday night, we made the trip once again up to Evan’s cottage to finish all the work we had started last weekend. Thankfully the floors were now done, so all that was left was painting. We had the same painting crew as last weekend, plus Brotherman’s fiancée Kelly, so with all of us and our brushes the time flew by and we are done everything except the bathrooms and kitchen. Including the popcorn ceiling in the living/dining room (the most annoying I would say). Success.

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Yep, we paint with beer. It makes it way more fun, like a painting party. We were happy painters.

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Just happy painters all around.

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Oh wait.

Evan and I actually had to leave  around 4pm on Saturday because we had my good friend Emily’s 30th birthday barbecue to attend. So we got all cleaned up and headed over to that, and it was the most fun break of all time. More on that later though, because it needs a separate post.

On Sunday morning we were back at the cottage for more leisurely shenanigans. And it was actually a nice day! Surprise! We also had a couple of things to celebrate, Brotherman and Kelly’s impending nuptials (yayyyy lovers!), and also Kelly’s birthday.

So we all headed to the Victoria Inn in Gores Landing to get our celebration brunch on.

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It was so nice. Just the cutest little inn ever. The eight of us sat on the gorgeous back patio, which had a very nice view of the lake.

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Well, if that tree wasn’t in the way it would.

It was a big party of lovers. We had Kelly and Michael (Brotherman), the guests of honour…

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Evan’s cousin Barb and her husband Brian…

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Don’t Barb and Evan look alike? I think they do!

Evan and I…

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With our mimosas.

And the ultimate lovers, Evan’s Uncle Gino and Auntie Eedie.

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Who are great. Uncle Gino makes me laugh hard.

Nearly all of us ordered the sweet potato soup and the pan-fried Cajun pickerel.

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No regrets here. Both were delicious. My dad used to make the most amazing pickerel ever (breaded with Cornflakes!) and it didn’t quite compare to that, but it was still really good and I enjoyed it.

Kelly’s vegetarian plate looked pretty great as well.

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I had apple crisp with ice cream for dessert, but I accidentally deleted my picture of it, so here’s Barb’s blue cheese dessert plate with ice wine.

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I thought that blue cheese was the only kind of cheese I didn’t like but oh boy was I wrong. I think I just don’t like it in sauce form, because I loved that blue cheese!

It was a really great brunch, with lots of toasting to Brotherman and Kelly.

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I should mention that almost Evan’s entire family (and his friends) call him The Porpoise, or Porpy, or Porp because he was such a graceful swimmer when he was younger. Aww, haha. It is a funny nickname, and I am pretty much the only one who calls him Evan. It’s also funny because my parents used to call me Mermaid because I liked swimming so much (no one said I was graceful).

Anyway, after brunch we headed back to the cottage for some leisuring. I immediately set up shop in that hammock, right by the lake.

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So super comfy. Uncle Gino brought over a second hammock and set it up so I had some company…

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And this was my view as I drifted off to sleep.

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Perfect. It may have been the best nap of my life.

It was just an excellent weekend all around. And I’m hoping the nicer weather is finally here to stay.

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Everybody’s Painting for the Weekend

I meant to write this baby up on Sunday, but when I arrived home I basically face-planted on my couch and didn’t move until it was bedtime. Friday night after work Evan and Brotherman picked me up for a fun weekend at their cottage. Well alright, I am using the word fun loosely here. Cottage leisuring is one of my favourite activities of all time, but they are currently renovating their cottage so the plan was to be working for most of the weekend. I knew what I was signing up for though, so I packed up my grubby painting clothes and was ready to go.

We stopped at a Tim Hortons on the way up, which also had a Cold Stone Creamery in it, and when I saw this I couldn’t say no…

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That would be cake batter ice cream with sprinkles sandwiched between two Tim Hortons chocolate chip cookies. So it was basically my dream. It is a very good thing there aren’t any Cold Stone Creameries located close to me because I could easily eat that every day.

We also stopped at the Golden Beach Resort on Rice Lake, which is near their cottage and a frequent hangout for those lads.

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Evan is quite a catch, I cannot lie (also, who painted this picture? Why does my hand just disappear into my hip?)

We went to the little restaurant there for dinner, and I was excited about it as Evan and Brotherman have been raaaaaving on about this place to me for months.

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It was very cute and rustic, and it definitely had a cottagey vibe. This amazing sign was apparently in the men’s bathroom.

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I didn’t actually see it (because I’m not allowed in there), but Brotherman took a picture on his phone to show me. I was very disappointed to find zero signs in the women’s washroom. There was just a boring poster for some shopping event. Does being a lady mean I can’t enjoy a clever beer sign?! No it does not.

We ate on the patio, which was nice until it started to get dark and the mosquitos were all up in my grill. I grew up in a forest though, so I am used to those annoying little bastards. I like it when they bite my eye.

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I lied. I do not (this picture is not from this weekend. I avoided getting bit on the eye).

Anyway, I liked the patio. It will full of interesting characters, like an intoxicated father yelling at everyone and talking about his nether regions very loudly, and a male chef in oversized red stilettos. Definitely a frequent sight in the city, but a pleasant surprise in cottage country.

I started my cottage weekend off right with a big ol’ pint.

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And the haddock and chips were the Friday night special, so that’s what we all ordered.

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That was actually the small, and it was huge. And really delicious.

We finally arrived at the cottage and were greeted by most of Evan’s family on his dad’s side: his aunt and uncle, and cousins and families, none of whom I had met before. They were all very nice and welcoming, and they had a cheese platter laid out with about 10 different kinds of cheese, so of course I liked them all immediately.

Evan’s cottage is gorgeous.

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This is the view from their deck. Their property is very secluded, and it’s probably the biggest cottage I have been to. It has two floors and a walkout basement with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a living/dining room. Which is awesome, but bigger is not exactly better when you are painting every single one of those rooms and laying down new floor in almost all of them. That was what our Saturday activities consisted of.

Here is the family room before the new floor…

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And this is it after (but not painted yet).

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The floor is beautiful! I cannot take any credit for that, it was all Evan and his cousin’s husband. Evan was the official saw handler.

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Note the protective glasses and ear muffs. Safety first, friends.

We are not quite done and will be returning this weekend to finish, but with 10 people working we accomplished quite a lot!

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I was absolutely covered in paint afterwards. I had it everywhere.

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I can’t paint and not have it all over me. I don’t know how it is possible. But I told everyone that I purposely got paint all over myself so it looked like I was working hard. Oh I know the tricks.

But I did work very hard. I will basically do whatever you want if you pay me in food, which Evan’s family must have known, because they paid me quite well.

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Dinner Plate #1

Yeah I get down with fake cheese sometimes.

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Dinner Plate #2

I actually didn’t mind working at all, and I feel like that is a very good environment to get to know people. It was a good first family meeting, and I definitely feel pretty comfortable around them all now (painting for 8 hours will make you a little loopy and say weird things). Plus a lot of the weekend looked like this:

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So I wasn’t exactly rushing outside to be in the sunshine. I didn’t even go swimming!

But I did get out for a bit on Sunday to read my book on the deck.

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It was overcast for a lot of the day so I didn’t put on sunscreen, and of course I managed to get a bit of a sunburn. I NEVER used to burn EVER, my entire childhood. Stupid sun. It does not like me anymore.

Anyway, it was a good weekend and I was really sore yesterday. I drank a lot of beer also. Oh, and Evan’s Uncle Gino is my new favourite. That is all.

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