Tag Archives: Summer

Bestie Lake Time

My Bestie Lisa is visiting! (I haven’t linked to her debut post in a while, so just in case you need a refresher on my food soulmate).

Photo from back in May because I just really like our twin shirts.

I think I have seen her more this year than any year since she’s lived in Calgary, and that has been awesome. I start to feel weird if it’s been too long since we’ve seen each other. She is a sister to me and a really good talk with her makes me feel the most like myself and ready to just win at life.

It was pretty late when I picked her up from the airport on Thursday night, so when we got home we planned on just having one glass of wine and a quick catch-up session on the balcony (we’re loud bitches together and we didn’t want to get the mute emoticon from Evan) and then head to bed. Well, you know how it happens with your best friend. One glass of wine becomes two, which turns into Lisa yelling “JUST BRING THE WHOLE BOTTLE OUT HERE!” when I run inside to pee, which turns into it suddenly being 2am and we’ve drank an entire 2L bottle of wine and can’t walk properly anymore. Whoops. Friday morning felt nice. #noregrets

Friday afternoon we headed to Lisa’s parents lake house. I will always love their old cottage where we met (we met skating on the lake, remember), and it will always hold nostalgic memories of growing up…but I have to say it is not disappointing to visit the lake house.

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It is not disappointing at all. And I have to say the swimming is better here than the lake I grew up on. By the way, the difference between a lake house and a cottage is that lake houses are where you live, cottages are where you visit in the summer.

The weather was beautiful and we had such a nice afternoon and evening catching up with her parents. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think of them as almost my own parents, so I just feel very welcome and at home there. They are my people. Case in point:

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Yep.

I was also excited to see little Roxy.

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She is the best dog. She was originally rescued from a kill shelter in America. Apparently the staff kept moving her from shelter to shelter because they wanted her to live, until someone brought her to a rescue in Ontario and Diane and Phil found her. She is the sweetest. They really lucked out with her. And she lucked out with them also, because they absolutely spoil  her.

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I mean, who wouldn’t.

She is quite minxy.

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Her wily feminine ways definitely lure all the boys to the yard.

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Or the neighbours’ tutu-clad female dog, whichever.

We spent the afternoon swimming and hanging out on the deck and had a lot of family reading time. I told my friend Sherrie this and she asked “Do you mean you read aloud to each other?” so just to clarify, no. Though that would have been funny. We all read our respective books, just together in the same area. Still cute.

And we ate a lot, as we do. Lisa’s mom Diane really outdoes herself with food things. When I think of going over there when we were growing up I have a lot of fond food memories. Specifically in the snack department.

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I love red pepper jelly and that is homemade red pepper jelly!

We ate dinner out on the deck, starting with spring rolls!

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Followed by grilled chicken, green (well,yellow) beans, and this delicious Asian-inspired chopped salad that I think is from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry.

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Tis the season of summer barbecues. J’adore.

We happened to be celebrating Lisa’s birthday weekend, so a bunch of our friends came up on Saturday for the festivities. I am going to save those festivities for tomorrow though, as this is getting a little lengthy already.

Hope you had a great weekend!

 

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Labour Day Lake Weekend

My very bestest buddy Lisa is currently visiting from Calgary so I was very lucky to be able to spend the majority of Labour Day weekend with her at her parents lake house.

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Yes, we have Labour Day in Canada, it is not only for Americans. But yes, we spell it Labour, with a U.

I can’t think of anywhere else I would have rather been.

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Beauty, beauty. Lisa’s good friend Corina was with us as well, who I also know pretty well as she was Lisa’s roomie in university and I spent a LOT of party nights at their place. Their uni house will always hold a special place in my heart. Ah the good ol’ days.

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The last time the three of us were together…almost two years ago!

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And this time.

Friday evening was pretty low key. We just went swimming, did some hot tubbing, and around 8:30 convinced Lisa’s dad to drive us to a Salvation Army sale that was happening (we could not drive ourselves as we had been drinking in the hot tub). Browsing around was pretty fun, but the sale turned out to be kind of a bust EXCEPT for this pretty sweet game Corina picked up.

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It is called Personal Preference and it is definitely from the 80s. Some of the people in the People category we had to Google because we didn’t know who they were, but it is definitely a good time. Basically you pick four cards in different categories and rank them secretly according to your personal preference. The other players then bet on the order of your preference. Corina already owns it but she has played it so many times with her friends she grabbed it in case one of them wanted it. She said she had been looking online and saw it for about $60 but at the Salvation Army she scored it for $1.99. Pretty sweet deal. It provided hours of entertainment.

Because of our late night trip we didn’t eat dinner until about 9:30pm, but we ate outside with Lisa’s parents (who I like to consider my second parents) and it was romantic.

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I didn’t take a picture of what we ate so I already forget. See, this is why I like a record of these things. But on Saturday morning we woke up to a famous Lisa’s dad’s (or Daddy Brook) breakfast.

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Waffles and peameal bacon. Yes and yes.

We leisured around for a bit until this guy arrived.

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Good thing too, because when I jumped in the lake the day before in my life jacket diaper I was wearing my sunglasses and they promptly fell off and sunk to the bottom of the lake. Not really a big deal, but they are prescription from Zenni and I like being able to see. Evan brought me an extra pair AND he brought goggles and went down and retrieved my lost ones as soon as he got there. That was very nice.

Life jacket diaper picture, for your reference.

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Evan brought Bolt along with him, and he immediately got settled into leisuring as well.

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Lisa’s parents have a little dog named Roxy, and Bolt has not always been great with other dogs (mainly ones that are bigger than him though) so I worried about how they were going to get along. But after a little first meeting tiff they were best friends. They immediately found a common interest in chasing squirrels and were good with each other for the rest of the weekend.

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They were so cute together.

We spent the afternoon swimming and hanging around on the dock.

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And eating.

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Lisa’s mom always has the BEST hotdog and hamburger relishes. 

In the late afternoon, Lisa’s parents took us all on a boat ride.

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I’ve never seen Bolt in a boat before so I wasn’t sure how he was going to react, but he was great.

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He had just gotten splashed here and did not really know what to think of that…

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Much boat ride, so happy.

I loved the boat ride. Lisa’s dad took us all through the locks/channels in the area.

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My favourite was looking at all the lake houses and deciding which one I would like to live in one day. Perhaps this blue one.

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The crazy thing about that blue house is that is the guest house. The actual house is even bigger behind it. But I’d seriously live in a shack if it was on a lake. A tent even.

The entire area is beautiful. All the rocks make me happy.

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This was our favourite dog that we saw…

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Can you spot him perched on the end of that makeshift diving board?

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So majestic.

Our ride was about an hour and took us over to the falls and back.

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Lots of time for doggy snuggles.

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Bolt is so snuggly. He likes to snuggle even more than Winnie, which I wouldn’t have thought possible. She lives for snuggling.

And then we got back and I promptly split my pants…

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They were wet from my bathing suit and the seams did not like that. They’re my favourite cottage pants!!! Sad day.

We had a nice family dinner together.

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We spent more time in the hot tub…

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And we played that Personal Preference game into the evening. Evan was making Lisa, Corina and I die of laughter. I don’t even know what he was doing, but I have said before that I just look at his facial expressions and it makes me laugh hard and I think that’s what was happening.

It was a dream day.

I think Sunday might have been Evan’s dream day though because he got to go sailing with the boys.

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He was pretty excited about that. We girls stayed back and had reading time. And I was pretty excited about THAT. I love my reading time. Every time Lisa and I are together we end up having reading time. We always have. I’d say the only difference in our reading time now and 20 years ago is our choices, but Lisa was re-reading Remember Me by Christopher Pike so it would appear that nothing has actually changed. I remember loving that book so much. I am going to have to re-read it.

Picture of Bolt and Lisa’s mom just because:

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And we had another amazing lunch.

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And then, sadly, it was time for Evan and I to hit the road.

On Sunday night, Lisa and I met up with the girls at my friend Dawn’s. Baby Scarlett slow danced with Donatello.

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And we spent some time catching up in the pool.

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It was really nice to have a low key night in with the ladies.

Perfect last weekend of summer. Just what I would have wanted to do.

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The Beach Date (and the sausages that almost weren’t)

Saturday morning after my night out with the girls, Evan picked me up for a beach date!

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We had plans to visit his family in Belleville for the rest of the weekend, so we figured since we were in the area we would hit up Sandbanks for the day on Saturday, which is a beautiful beach on Lake Ontario. I have been to Sandbanks many times before though (usually for camping), and on the drive there we were talking about how busy it would be since it was Saturday and decent weather. Evan grew up in the area and mentioned he knew of another beach that was way less busy. Little Bluff, a conservation area on the opposite side of Sandbanks. I had never been there and when he explained it I was down immediately. So that’s where we ended up, and it was beautiful.

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There is a little bluff that overlooks the water (hence the name “Little Bluff”), and the view is just gorgeous. The water is such a beautiful colour.

As we were driving into the conservation area, Evan was telling me a story about the last time he was there with Brotherman when he was about 14, and about this fox that was stalking them because it wanted their beef jerky. Coincidentally, as soon as we got out of the car we saw a fox! I immediately yelled “He’s after your BEEF JERKY!” But luckily the fox ran away and did not harass us. He was not after our beef jerky.

There is a little trail beside the bluff that leads down to the water…

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And as soon as you exit it is just beauty, beauty.

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This beach is the exact opposite of Sandbanks. All rock, no sand, and barely any people! Such a good call. Sandbanks is my favourite sandy beach in Ontario, but rocky swimming is my favourite because I find the water so much more clear and refreshing, and it’s usually deeper. I couldn’t wait to get into it.

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That is the little bluff behind me. Evan and I decided to be adventurous and swim over to it.

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When we got close it was shallow enough to walk, but I was iffy about putting my feet down on the algae rocks in that area, so I preferred to keep swimming. Evan got pretty close to the cliff.

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This was taken about .2 seconds before Evan saw a water snake beside him. Snakes to Evan are like spiders to me, so he had a bit of a freak out and was suddenly next to me a second later. He immediately declared this particular area a snake zone and said he was outta there. As we were swimming back, he was turning back to look at me and was all “I KNEW there would be snakes here! They love the rocks! This is a snake’s dream! Blechhhh snakes!” and I noticed what looked like a stick half out of the water directly in front of him. I interrupted his snake tangent to ask “What’s that in front of you?” and he turned around just as he was about to swim into it. It was of course another snake, much larger than the first one he’d seen. I wish I had our reaction on video, because him panicking made me panic and we were both splashing around like maniacs so we would scare the snake and it wouldn’t come after us. I tend to pick up on the reactions of others, so both of us going nuts was hilarious I’m sure.

I don’t really mind snakes, and I used to catch garter snakes when I was a kid, but I don’t particularly enjoy them swimming in the water with me… Blech.

Anyway, we made it safely back to our beach area and set up shop.

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So Evan had mentioned he had brought a picnic for us, and I was expecting some snacks and maybe some bread and possibly meat for sandwiches. I was not expecting him to bust out a grill.

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He exceeds my expectations of pretty much everything daily though, so I should not have been surprised. He has tricks up his sleeve.

He also had beer.

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Cheers to not getting attacked by a snake.

That guy thinks of everything.

The grill was to cook these mini sausages Evan had bought. I was all over this idea, but then we had some grill issues… It suddenly got very windy, and we could not get the coal that sits underneath the grill to light. We tried for so long and it was just not happening. We decided we needed to help it out.

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We collected a bunch of sticks and dry leaves to light a fire inside the grill, but still, too windy to light. Wasn’t happening.

So Evan thought maybe if we created a wall around the grill we might be able to block the wind and light the fire.

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But nope. Still didn’t work. It would catch for a second and then just go out. I find it funny how easy it apparently is to burn your house down, but lighting a fire in a designated spot designed for fire-starting is so hard.

Eventually we packed up everything and went up to the picnic shelter. Evan was not letting us have cold sausages, so he got creative.

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And finally, FINALLY, after about an hour of trying to light the damn fire, we lit the fire and were able to light the coal on fire.

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He even brought tongs that resourceful minx!

And, more importantly, were able to cook our mini sausages.

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Success.

It was perfect after it was officially lit, and the coal got extremely hot and cooked our sausages perfectly. I was pumped.

And what delicious little sausages they were.

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I think they tasted better because it had taken us so long to make them and I was worried for a bit that they may not happen at all. I was very grateful for Evan and his sausages.

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Loverssss

It was a good beach day!

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Weekend Stuff

I still had a gift card from the Milestones Chef’s Menu tasting that I attended in May. Don’t ask me how, as usually those burn a hole in my pocket. I expected the gift card to be like $20 max, since Milestones had already fed me so much and really owed me nothing. I decided to check the balance online so I knew what I was working with, and I was pleasantly surprised to find $50 on there!

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YES! Date night here we come!

Evan and I found a nearby Milestones and got the party started with a couple pints of Rickard’s White on the patio.

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Milestones is a little bit on the expensive side (not quite Keg, but not far off either), but since we rolling in gift card cash, we went a little crazy and ordered bocconcini garlic bread to start.

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It was SO good. It may have been the cheesiest garlic bread I have ever witnessed. Nothing wrong with that. Milestones is doing garlic bread right, that is for sure.

I was thinking about trying an item on the Chef’s menu to see if it was as good as when I sampled everything, but then the butternut squash ravioli with goat cheese and spiced pecans caught my eye and I knew that’s what I wanted.

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It was an interesting presentation, and I was actually concerned that wouldn’t fill me up. But no worries there, it was very misleading. I was full after about three bites and I couldn’t quite finish it. I loved it. The addition of goat cheese really made it for me.

On Saturday after the Nana party, Evan and I decided to check out Sheppard’s Bush Conservation Area in Aurora, since my Nana lives around there.

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It was a nice day (though HOT!), and pretty gorgeous there, so we had fun exploring it. I was also really impressed with this:

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A fitness trail! Exercise stations right on the trail. What a great idea. I want this in my neighbourhood.

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I would definitely do this if I lived around here. Sure beats the gym.

We also did a little geocaching, which is basically like an outdoor scavenger hunt around the world, if you have never heard of it. Here’s a handy video about it.

I have the free app on my phone that will show you the three nearest geocaches, and we were quickly able to spot them.

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Having an app for this was a lot easier than my old method of geocaching, which was google the general location of the cache before you leave the house and then attempt to find it once you were outside. That really did not work out very well sometimes, and I spent hours and hours looking for a few caches in my old neighbourhood. The app was a dream compared to that, as the compass will lead you directly where the cache is hidden. It was Evan’s first time geocaching though, so I do kind of wish at least one wasn’t so easy to find.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up some stuff for dinner, and we noticed that brie was on sale. Certainly can’t pass that up.

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That was pre dinner. Dinner was this amazing black bean dip that Evan made and a bunch of cut up vegetables, plus some rosemary pork.

On Saturday we decided to escape the city and head up to Sibbald Point Provincial Park on Lake Simcoe for some beach time. It’s convenient because it’s fairly close to the city, but far enough away that it has the feel of cottage country.

No one else had the idea of going there at all. No one.

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That’s like Florida beach busy! That was a surprise since I thought we were stumbling across some unknown gem, but it looks like everyone in the city knows about it.

Ah well. We were able to find a spot for our beach blanket that wasn’t too rammed.

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It was a gorgeous day and we spent the afternoon swimming and leisuring around in the sun.

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I was happy to finally have a sun day, because so far this summer hasn’t been ideal for that. And I’ll take busy beach over no beach any time.

And that was my weekend. Fun times.

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Evergreen Brick Works (aka the Dream Day)

Ahoy!

As I mentioned briefly yesterday, Evan and I went on a brick-related adventure on Saturday. We were looking for something to do that would get us outside, and the Evergreen Brick Works has been on my radar for a while. It is a former quarry and industrial site (where bricks were made, hence the name) that has been turned into an urban park.

Several of my friends have told me how amazing it is there, and I heard there was a pretty awesome farmer’s market on Saturday, so it sounded like a good time.

We were originally going to drive over, but then we mapped it out and noticed that the Beltline trail went straight to it, and it was walkable from my apartment. That sounded like a more adventurous option.

I had never taken this trail before, though technically it does connect to my new favourite running trail, and I could not get over how gorgeous it was.

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It was a really nice hike, and I love that there is this beautiful forest in the middle of the city.

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I almost forgot we were still in the city, but then we stumbled across a reminder…

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Probably wouldn’t find that in a regular forest…

There were a lot of people running, hiking, and biking through there. Toronto really is a very active city, which I enjoy quite a lot.

Eventually the trail came out at the Don Valley Brick Works.

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I LOVE the idea of exploring rundown buildings, and I love that Evegreen has taken these buildings and turned them into an urban park and cultural centre for everyone to enjoy. Evergreen is a national charity dedicated to restoring nature in urban environments. They really did a good job here, and they kept the charm of the old brick stuff.

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Apparently the original Brick Works operated for nearly 100 years and provided bricks for a lot of Toronto landmarks like Massey Hall, Casa Loma, and the Ontario Legislature. They actually have a huge sign on the side of one of the buildings that lists all the buildings in Toronto that are built with bricks made here.

I was really excited to check out the kilns area, which still has tunnels and ovens from the brick-producing days.

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Exciting.

Some of the tunnels you can actually walk through. Not a good idea if you are claustrophobic, but I am not (only sometimes on an incredibly busy subway packed with sweaty people).

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The rest of the kilns area has been turned into exhibits about environmental sustainability.

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It was really cool to read about what different cities across the world are doing to be more environmentally sustainable. And it was very interesting to explore in there.

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I am not sure what’s going on with the bicycles or that man’s sensual face, but I like it.

After the kilns we decided to check out the farmer’s market. Soo many glorious things happening over there.

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Ahh pure maple syrup is my favourite. Those little sugary maple syrup maple leaves are the best. They just melt on your tongue.

These do also:

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We snagged a couple of natural popsicles made with a juicer, which Evan loooved the idea of, so I have a feeling he’ll be picking up some molds to recreate these. I got the watermelon lemon mint, and Evan chose the cucumber lime mint. Both were delicious and refreshing.

The farmer’s market also had an entire area dedicated to ethnic foods. It was hands down my favourite area.

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We noticed a long line at one end and when I saw what people were waiting for, I immediately got in it.

CREPES. Delicious, savoury, crepes.

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Evan and I both got the garden vegetable one, which came with a TON of cheese.

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It was all melty and delicious. My crepe was just a beast packed with goodness.

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Neither of us could finish ours. It was absolutely huge. We really should have split one, but ah, hindsight.

As we were eating we noticed a couple struggling with wheeling a large cooler into a utility room. There was a latch in the centre on the top of the door, and when they were attempting to push the cooler through the middle they were repeatedly banging into the latch and the cooler would get stuck. They couldn’t figure out what the problem was and they were getting very frustrated, which was pretty entertaining because all they needed to do was back the cooler out a bit and move it over a foot. Evan noticed the problem and offered to help them out.

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After he successfully helped guide the cooler through the door the lady came out and said to me “At least YOUR man has BRAINS,” which yes, he definitely does. Though even I could tell that the cooler was too tall for the part of the door where the latch was. The entire ordeal made me laugh hard.

After our giant crepe and the cooler fandango, we did some more exploring of the green space surrounding Brick Works.

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Including the lookout, which is at the top of this MASSIVE hill that is basically a mountain.

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After climbing it I thought I was going to die for about five minutes. I’m serious, it was nearly a 90 degree angle. And then we realized that there is a path that goes around the back way and is much less steep and we could have just leisurely walked it. Oh well, you live and you learn. It was a workout at least. And it was pretty…

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…pretty perfect for a selfie!

Gorgeous views all around though.

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As we were making our way back Evan suddenly grabbed one of these long weeds and randomly said “Tree or bush?”

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It was so unexpected that I just burst out laughing. I have not had anyone do the ol’ tree or bush game to me since elementary school. Anyone else remember doing that? Is that a Canadian thing? Maybe just a southern Ontario thing?

More importantly, when Evan ran his fingers forcefully up that weed, do you think the end result looked like a tree or bush?

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Bush. Always bush. Every time.

Anyway, we made our way back to my house, and then eventually over to Evan’s (aka where all the good food is), where we made strawberry banana daiquiris and grilled steak, roasted vegetables with rosemary, and garlic toast for dinner.

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For the garlic toast we actually roasted cloves of garlic in the oven, and then spread them on the toast when they were all golden and soft. I can’t take credit for that idea, but sweet baby Jesus it was good.

Pretty perfect day. Food and nature is always a good time to me. The only way I think it could have been better is if we stumbled across a litter of kittens or maybe baby beavers (I have always wanted to see one).

If you live in the city I highly recommend exploring Brick Works and the area surrounding it. There really is something to be said about being a tourist in your own city.

And if you are not a Torontonian, does your city have anything similar to Brick Works?

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Bala Babes (and Troy)

I have been excited for this long weekend to get here since June. My friend Crystal is visiting from Calgary (who I just saw while I was in Calgary), and she organized a girls’ weekend away with our high school friends at her aunt Christina’s house in Muskoka. Sort of a re-creation of our girls’ weekend away last year.

(this picture would be from last year)

Muskoka is a region about two hours north of Toronto, and is referred to as “cottage country” around here because there are so many lakes, and so many summer cottages. It’s a very popular tourist destination, even for those who already live in Ontario.

Here’s a map for you so you can get an idea of the amount of lakes.

The lakes are something I love so much about Ontario! I just looked it up, and according to Wikipedia, Ontario contains about 250,000 fresh water lakes. That is a lot o’ lakes! I really love swimming, so it works out well for me.

Our destination for the weekend was Bala, which could possibly be the cutest little town of all time. There is not one chain store in it. Not even a Tim Hortons.

We were very excited about our night out in Bala, and I think Bala was excited for us to be there too. When I tweeted about it and posted an Instagram photo, Bala actually replied.

And of course this made us laugh quite a lot. I love the internet.

Anyway, we arrived at Crystal’s aunt’s around noon on Friday and immediately headed to the beach.

Crystal’s aunt Christina was working, but her boyfriend Bryan came along with us and acted as our official photographer.

We swam and leisured around on the water for a while before heading back to Christina’s to get ready for dinner and a night out.

We had all the same girls as last year in attendance (plus Dawn’s sister Melon), so we really wanted to re-create this picture from last time.

Only this year instead of the glasses we had the world’s longest beard.

Obviously the beard had to come out with us, and we had some other props as well, including the glasses, and a little doll that we named Troy.

Troy was absolutely the hit of the evening, and everyone loved him. Our first stop was the Moon River Lookout, a restaurant in Bala that overlooks Moon River (as the name would suggest), and the staff was very accommodating and made sure Troy had his own seat at our table.

And his own drink.

It was great for Bryan, who would have been the only male in attendance if it weren’t for Troy. I don’t think he minded being in the middle of all the ladies though.

Yeah, I’m going to say he liked it (and I like our demon eyes, silly iPhone).

I ended up sharing meals with my friend Emily, so together we ordered the beer-battered pickeral fish and chips and the heirloom tomato and bocconcini salad.

The fish was especially good, and the salad was pretty good as well, though TINY. I am so glad I did not just order that as my entrée, because it was seriously one chopped tomato and three pieces of bocconcini cheese on some spinach. My hunger monster would have came out with a vengeance if I had eaten only that. It was a pretty decent serving of fish though, so that was my savior.

Dinner was a fun time, and even the owner came out to see Troy.

We liked his style (literally, we liked his shirt).

After our romantic dinner on the river, we headed to Bala Bay Inn to continue our party. It was pretty dead in there, but we have no problem making our own fun.

I can’t even tell you how many people asked us what the occasion was. There was no occasion. Why does there need to be an occasion? We just like to have fun!

Troy had a lot of fun making new friends.

He was that man’s good luck charm. He sank five balls in a row with Troy attached to his cue.

We also liked to make people wear the beard with Troy tangled into it. And then make them pose.

I know, we are ridiculous. I’m sure a lot of people do not find this funny, but let me tell you, we are hilarious to us. I was laughing pretty much the entire night.

But we lost Troy that night. Someone who did not share our sense of humour ended up stealing him and throwing him far away. We were sad.

But the next day, some of the girls had to leave in the morning, and shortly after they left we got a text with this picture attached to it:

TROY! They found him! He was wrapped around a stop sign. I can’t tell you how much this made us laugh. We were absolutely dying when we got that text. Troy lives on! You may be seeing him again…

It was a very fun time with the ladies. Saturday was pretty ridiculous as well, but I’ll save that for tomorrow as this is quite lengthy. I hope you all had a great long weekend!

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