I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers, said Anne Shirley. Well so am I! There is something magical about the changing colors of the leaves, the early darkness of the night and all the excitement of Halloween; which has make my heart burst every October since as far as I can remember. And you know what else makes my heart burst? Festive pajamas! I couldn’t pass on the opportunity of sharing my favorite finds of the pumpkin season, so here comes the cutest pajamas you could ever find!
And since I love the season so much, I gotta share this product as well as it brought me so much happiness! Here’s my new MINI PUMPKIN WAFFLE MAKER. It’s just too good to be through and yet, I have one and I love it! You have to get once for yourself. Liam said the pumpkin waffles tasted like perfection… That’s my boy!
So order up some awesome pajamas, whip up a batch of Mini Pumpkin Waffles and put on Hocus Pocus to put you in a festive mood! Still not sure how Halloween will look like this year, but I will be there for all of it.
What will you be this year? Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from celebrating Halloween. Come on! Worst come to worst, just celebrate at home with your immediate family and kids. Fall and Winter may be tough for some of us with the COVID cases going up again and the restrictions increasing, so I think that we need to take every opportunities we get to do something out of it and have a little fun. That’s the key to maintaining some sort of wellness! So dress up and do something fun on October 31st! Here we’re putting together a physical-distancing-costume-parade for kids on our street! So can you guess our costumes for this year? I’ll share some pictures on Halloween Day!
Summer may be kind of over already, but it’s never too late for a nice BBQ! This Spicy Pesto Chicken recipe has been one of our favorite and go-to BBQ meal all summer long and it’s so good that I have to share!
You can do this recipe with any cut of chicken: whole, breast or even thighs. Our go-to has been with a whole chicken cooked on a beer can chicken holder! I suggest marinating the chicken at least 4 hours to really get all the flavours inside. Serve with grilled veggies and some pesto aioli.
This recipe is perfect for entertaining or for a school night meal. Prepare everything in advance and just cook when you’re ready. So much flavours! It’s September, but there’s still plenty of time left to enjoy some more BBQ, so let’s do it and cook this one soon!
This could actually be a really short blog post, as all I could do is post all the wonderful pictures we took in Prince Edward County and tell you this: ‘’Just go and live it for yourself, you’ll love it!!!’’ But since I love sharing our experiences and trips with all of you, here’s a review of our awesome summer vacation in the County.
So just like everyone else, the pandemic ruined all of our travel plans – Disney World last March, Canada’s East Coast in July, a weekend in Chicago in August, and our planned weekend in New York in December. We quarantined pretty hard over here for what seemed to be like forever, but the itch to travel was always there, and then it kinda took over by early July. We were thinking about possibly traveling with the boys, but then decided we weren’t ready for them to re-join the real world just yet. So we opted to travel to the Prince Edward County for the second summer in a row, without kids this time, after lots of considerations regarding the different public health measures we would have to follow. We figured out that since it was not too far from home, and that most activities would be done outside, it was safe enough for us to go there.
After settling on our destination, we started to look for available places to stay. I would have loved to stay at my beloved The June Motel once again, but sadly, they were fully booked for that weekend. Luckily, we were able to find the most exquisite Airbnb, located right downtown Picton. Oh, and we did not traveled alone, we invited our friends Mat and Vero to tag alone and they said yes, which made our road trip so much better!
We left early Saturday morning, with Starbucks’ lattes in hands as well as with a stupid song in our heads! The road up there from Ottawa is quite nice and pretty. You can take the highway and save on time, or take the beautiful scenic route by the water and then get to Picton on a ferry. I recommend doing that for the way up there, and then taking the highway on the way back, just like we did. We chatted the entire time until we made it into the county. Brian had organized a schedule for the three days we were there, and our first stop was at Parson’s Brewery for lunch and beers.
So I am going to be giving some awards in this blog… And Parson’s wins for the Best Brewery Terrace I’ve ever been to. This place is awesome and so fun to be at. It has so much characters, with the wooden beams and wooden tables, the barn, the van, the people, and so much more. The vibe is unique and exactly what we were all looking for for our first stop. They have great food and great beers and the best location for you to enjoy it. It was a perfect start to our little vacation. It was Mat and Vero’s first time in the County and after visiting Parson’s, they were already sold on PEC.
We then visited our first winery and had wine at Three Dog Winery. We sat by the vines and enjoyed the live music and the summer heat – all weekend long it was hot and sunny, close to 40 degrees every day in the County, so let me tell you that we enjoyed that canopy at our picnic table at Three Dog. Three Dogs is a super laid back winery, with such friendly staff and colourful place. The homemade wood oven pizza looked and smelled delicious, but we had to pass since we just had lunch.
Then it was back on the road for a short drive to Kinsip, House of Fine Spirits. When we visited Kinsip last year it was love at first sight – and you can read all about it here in my picton and the power of pink blog post. This year was no exception. We had booked our tasting online and were immediately seated outside in large Adirondack chairs, ready to try them delicious drinks and spirits. The experience at Kinsip was fun, relaxing, and again, such a great start to our weekend without kids! Kinsip is definitely a must if you visit the County, and they by far win the Most Beautiful Spirits Bottles Ever award. Like I don’t even mind when Brian keeps one of his Kinsip bottles out, they’re that pretty! I also love the old house, as well as the entire setting with chickens running all around the tasting area. We only wished we could have stayed for a second tasting but it was fully booked on that day! Instead, we walked around the house and had some amazing food in the back yard: smoked brisket, pork side ribs and sausages… and that’s Big Mike’s BBQ! This food is out of this world! That BBQ was worth the drive alone. I was literally pissed that Brian didn’t order more. We should have brought some back to our Airbnb for a late night snack! If you visit the county, visit Big Mike’s BBQ, and bring me back some brisket. Okay, it’s a close one here, cause we had some pretty tasty BBQ later in the trip, but thinking back about all the food we had, Big Mike’s BBQ wins the Best BBQ in the County award for their perfectly smoked beef brisket.
So after a brewery, a winery and a distillery, it was time for me to go settle in our Airbnb. We had rented the second floor of what used to be a bakery, and I have to say that I have never stayed in such a fun, eclectic and interesting place! I honestly felt we were in a cool girly apartment that you find in sitcoms or movies! Everywhere you looked, there was something interesting… from the fresh butter croissants in the morning to the funky parlour where we chatted all evening long, it was perfect for us. It is located directly on Picton’s Main Street, right in front of 555 Brewery, so we could literally walk anywhere we wanted to go. The best thing when you drink and eat all day long is having the ability to park the car and walk where you wanna go! So evening walks were mandatory! And that’s what we did every night, go out to dinner and then walk around town. A walk that ended up at 555 Brewery on most nights.
On our first day, we decided to have dinner at The Acoustic Grill, just a few blocks away from our Airbnb. It was the perfect weather for our first patio dinner of the summer (craziness, we were in late July and that was our first dinner on a patio this summer!?). We had such a great time there, where we had local beers, local wine, amazing pub fare, and the best French fries I may have ever had. All I could think of was how Logan would have loved to eat there as there’s no one who enjoys eating fries like he does. So guess what you can do with the best fries? The best poutine! OMG it was good… Next time we go to Picton, The Acoustic Pub will be on our to-do list that’s for sure. This time around, due to COVID’s restrictions, there was none, but apparently there is usually some live music there, which would make this place even more awesome as there is nothing like a dinner at a pub with live music in the background. Next time, hopefully!
The next morning we all slept in and then sent Brian on a coffee hunt on Main Street… and he came back with the most delicious lattes and white chocolate raspberry scones that was ever made. Those scones deserve an award that’s for sure! The place he went to is called The Bean Counter Café, and if you stay in Picton, you need to go get your morning coffee and breakfast there. It was so good we actually went back for the same order the following two mornings. Yep, the scones and coffee were that good!
So on that first day, as soon as that coffee kicked in, we were out the door and ready to explore some more. Brian had again a full day organized for us. We started by hitting Prince Eddy’s Brewery for a very early first beer! We were the first one on the patio enjoying some drinks at about 10:45 am! Meanwhile, while they were trying out different beers, I sat patiently until the food joint opened, Slight Peppa. Oh my, oh my, this place completely blew my mind. I believe it was the first time I actually had Caribbean fusion food and I about just died right then and there as it was so good. We shared Jerk Chicken Baos, Crispy Garlic Beef and Chickpeas Fritters. All out of this world! Slight Peppa definitely wins the Best New Find award as I didn’t even know the place existed, I had no expectations, but I couldn’t stop eating once I started as it was so good. Would go back to Picton just to have some more, and so you should!
Our second stop of the day was at Huff Estates, and we were lucky enough to score the best seat in the house for our wine tasting. Life is good when you have a glass of wine in front of you while overlooking the vineyard that produced the grapes to make it. Once again, didn’t get to eat the wood oven pizza, but wish I had. It’s the only thing that would have made this visit any better! Next time for sure!
Then, we visited Trail Estate Winery. So much to say about this beautiful and modern new winery. We had the privilege to have a private tasting right in the cellar, and what an experience that was. We were right there, drinking wine, with wine barrels full of wine all around us! We had such a great time and learned so much about the land, the Sproll family, the winery, the winemaker, how it all started, the way they make their wine and the passion behind it. We loved and enjoyed every minute of it. We chatted with Alex for what seems to be like forever, and also tried all of their wine. We all loved the vibe of the place almost as much as their wine! We left Trail Estate such on a high, so excited about the wine tasting experience we had just had. The hour we spent in the cellar with Alex was the best – well it was 41 degree Celsius outside and like 15 in the Cellar, so that was awesome, but listening to him talk about his wine was so much fun and inspiring. So since I am giving awards today, this place definitely deserves one… and like, although I’ve been talking about beers, and drinks, and wine, as you all probably know, I do not drink, at all, so this award comes from Brian after I asked him about his favorite wine from our trip. When I asked him that, he immediately mentioned four wine, including the skin fermented Riesling from Trail… so for me, when I hear skin fermented wine, while also thinking about all the different wine they tried during that tasting, including some unfiltered hazy wine, some orange wine, and some type of wine none of us had ever heard about before, I feel like this place deserves the Most Creative Wine award. If you go to PEC, go try all the craft and colourful wine at Trail Estate! Thank you so much Alex, you have such a wonderful winery and products, thanks a lot for the time you spent with us and for the wonderful opportunity to visit the Estate.
So by the time we left Trail, some of us were a little tipsy, but we’re in wine County after all, so no time to lose as another winery was waiting for us! The moment we arrived at The Grange of Prince Edward Winery, it literally took my breath away. This place is simply gorgeous, like the most beautiful farm I’ve ever seen. We didn’t have enough time to visit it last year, although so many people had told us to go there, so there was no way we were skipping it this year. The scenery at the entrance of the estate is simply wonderful, and right there while driving towards the vineyard, I knew this was going to be a special visit.
This – I would guess – 200 years old barn is huge and so beautiful. It’s like perfection. Inside, you will find the wine shop and the tasting bar. The Grange totally hit the bullseye with me with their wine tasting experience! Once at the tasting bar, you select the wine you’d like to try, and they package it up in the cutest little box, where you’ll find a wine glass as well as your four selected wine, all perfectly labelled with the nicest tags. Simply well done! So we walked out with our wine tasting kits and found the perfect spot to enjoy our wine with a view of the vineyard. We took a thousand pictures, and then it was time for some fabulous cocktails. Right by the vineyard, there was this perfectly refurbished trailer called Old Salt Cocktails. By then, while they were all getting tipsy, I was getting hungry, so when Brian and Mat said they were going to go get some drinks at Old Salt, I asked them to bring me back some food. Well they came back with some colourful and delicious cocktails (Brian brought me a homemade lemonade, and it was not one of the best I’ve ever had, it was THE best I’ve ever had), as well as some gastronomic hot dogs. The sausages were so good we decided to go for seconds. I am not usually a big fan of hot dogs, but those were something else. So guess what, after a wine tasting kit, two hot dogs and a drink each, well my three musketeers decided to go get a glass of their favorite wine, but I actually didn’t mind, cause I loved being there and didn’t want to leave. Sitting by a vineyard like this makes me appreciate winemaking so much more, even if I don’t drink it myself. Brian loved The Grange’s Cabernet Franc and kept on talking about the brand new wine, ‘’not even bottled yet’’, that Maggie made them try. While The Grange should definitely win an award for their Cabernet Franc, I fell in love with the place, with the old rustic barn, the gorgeous scenery, the mother-daughter story, the lovely wine kits, so I’m giving them the Picture-Perfect Winery award. Can’t wait to visit the County again and go say hi to Maggie. If you go to PEC, you should do the same, as you’ll be blown away!
We stayed at The Grange for quite a while, so by the time we left, it was too late to go visit another vineyard, so we decided to find a patio for some more drinks. Vero wanted to have drinks at The Drake in Wellington, but we got there and it was fully booked. So we remembered that our amazing Airbnb hostess Jenny had recommended another place in Wellington, a new spot from which ‘’she had heard good things about’’. So we drove a few hundred meters and made it to The Lakeside. Oh. My. God. You will for sure be seeing me at The Lakeside very soon, I promise. I still can’t believe I didn’t know about this place. It’s a fully renovated 70’s motel, decorated in black and white, with a beautiful modern pool, as well as 4 glamping tents, all lined up in front of a huge Caribbean-esque patio, which is right by the water. I’m in love! I actually felt I was down south for a moment. It’s truly a masterpiece. The size of the patio overlooking the Lake is so impressive. They really thought of everything, with DIY fire pits, blankets, s’more kits and so much more (and I will be using it all when I’ll be going!). I hadn’t realize that Lake Ontario’s water was that aqua colour, but it was stunning just sitting there, hearing the waves hitting the shore below us and overlooking the water. The drinks were awesome, and pink! And the pizza was delicious – yep, I finally had some pizza! I tried to take many pictures but it was super windy, so they’re not exactly up to what we were seeing live. But that’s okay, I’ll be back soon, hopefully for a stay, if not, definitely for a drink!
After that, we went back to Picton, walked around a little, and then ended up at 555 Brewery for a beer before going back to our Airbnb. The nightlife in Picton was almost non-existent. Not sure if its COVID related, since last year with the boys we actually had early diners and went back to The June pretty early every night, but it seems like everything was shut down by 9 pm. So by 9:15 we were in our condo, which luckily was super nice and had the best parlour to lounge in, but being kids free for 3 days, I would have really like to stay out late at least one night! So we stayed in our parlour for a few hours, Brian opened a bottle of Pinot Noir from Trail Estate, and we chatted about how perfect our day was until bed time.
So the morning came, Mat went to the coffee shop to get us our lattes and scones, and then we all visited a few local shops as well as grabbed a few sandwiches for our scheduled afternoon picnic. We left Picton and headed right down to Closson Chase Winery. As soon as you arrived, all you see is the most perfect purple barn that was ever made – where they just happen to make perfect wine. The moment we arrived, we were greeted by Chris Braney, Closson Chase’s Brand Ambassador, and from there, we had the wine tasting experience of a lifetime. We sat by the grapes, chatting with Chris while drinking Rosé, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Chris took his time telling us stories about his past, his Irish roots and his youth, his love for the grapes and apples, as well as his life long search for the perfect land, soil and weather for him to start growing is own grapes; which is the reason why he left home and bought a land in PEC. He told us all about Closson Chase and the process and complexity of making great wine in PEC. He made us taste the difference between the wine they produce with the County grapes and the grapes they bring over from the Niagara region. His stories were the best, he had so much to tell us, while also being interested in hearing what we had to say, answering all of our questions, while sitting and drinking with us for hours like we were old friends. I could have sat there, listening to him talk about wine all day long. He spoke about wine with so much passion that I actually had to have some. So I drank a full glass of Rosé by the time they tasted the Rosé, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Grande Cuvée Chardonnay and Grande Cuvée Pinot Noir. I was so proud of myself! Chris really wanted me to try the Grande Cuvée Pinot Noir, but I was still sipping and enjoying my Rosé, so I said no, but I began to wish I’d drank red wine when he started to talk about that wine, describing every little details of it, of how it’s made and how it tastes, and you could feel there was something special about that specific bottle that got him particularly proud, and there was. They only use the best grapes to make this Grande Cuvée wine, which includes some of Chris’ own grapes. Right there when he said that, I wanted to cry from happiness for him. He was so proud about the wine, and so should he. We tried many different wine that weekend, and I have to say that as per my three travel partners, that Pinot Noir was at the top of their list as the most memorable and best one they’ve tried. So since we’re in wine County and some of you probably want to hear about the wine, and not only about the nice barns we’ve visited, here some prestigious wine awards based on what I’ve heard on the way back home the next morning. The Grande Cuvée wine from Closson Chase wins it all. They all chose the Closson Chase’s Grande Cuvée Pinot Noir and Grande Cuvée Chardonnay as their top two wine. Brian actually said that the Pinot Noir was now one of his favorite wine ever, while Vero and Mat mentioned that the Chardonnay was probably their favorite Chardonnay ever. Let me tell you one thing about my friends, well they drink a lot of good wine, so it made me sooo happy when they said that, cause deep down, I really wanted them to say that the beautiful-purple-barn-winery was making great wine, and they did, they make perfect wine! Congrats Closson Chase, you win the County’s Best Wine award.
So after we had drank more than our fair share of wine with Chris, he sent us at the back of the vineyard, where he said we would find the best spot for a picnic. We got there with our picnic basket, sat on a blanket, poured ourselves some more Chardonnay, and enjoyed our picnic while being surrounded by vines and grapes, talking about how incredible the last two hours had been.
Our time at Closson Chase really put the rest of our day to shame! Yet, we still had a great time visiting some more winery, eating pizza and drinking wine overlooking the Lake. It was such a great day in PEC, and such a pleasure meeting Chris Barney. Chris, thank you again for your time and generosity, we will be seeing you soon at Cold Creek Vineyards since visiting you and your family, as well as tasting your cider, is at the top of our list for our next trip to the County!
Our journey in PEC was coming to an end, and I was kinda happy when the boys decided to go to bed early as it gave me a chance to catch up with my girlfriend! Vero and I chatted until late that night, like we did when we were high school girls! It was great to go away with them, last time it was Vegas, this time PEC, who knows were our next destination will be! Surely somewhere there’ll be wine, but anywhere we go, I’m good with it, as I know we’ll be having a great time.
Prince Edward County, we simply love you. We all fell in love with you last year and I can’t imagine a summer where we won’t be visiting you. Our boys can’t wait to visit your beautiful beaches again, eat ice cream every day and have pancakes for dinner. And we can’t wait to visit again, feel the welcoming vibe of your region and enjoy everything you have to offer.
We’re in love and we will keep on coming back. Who knows, maybe sooner than later, as Chris told us that his favorite time of the year in PEC was actually October. We’ll see! Cheers everyone!
So about 18 months ago, when things were totally normal, without even knowing what was going to hit us, I decided to start doing some homemade hand soap… and boy did it come in handy since March with all this sanitizing frenzy. While the store soap shelves are empty, well there’s plenty in my house!
I’m sharing my Foamy Hand Soap recipe with you, so you can all start making it at home. It’s soft, it smells great and it’s satisfying to make! Sure, it might seem a bit expensive at first, but once you buy the products, it will give you about 10-15 bottles of soap. PLUS, it’s really great on sensitive skin and there’s no chemicals, as it’s entirely made of products you can name.
You can even get the kids involve in making the soap mixture. A quick DIY afternoon and you’ll get some fresh soap out of it! I will provide a link below of the products that I’ve been using since I started. I find that ordering through Amazon right now might be the easiest way to get your hands on these, since running from store to store is definitely not your best option right now.
Foamy Hand Soap
Bottle: You will need an empty foam pump bottles (I reused all the ones I had from Bath & Body Works) or any foam bottle you might have. I will also list some new ones you can buy to get you started.
Fill (up to the line on the bottle) with distilled water.
Mix slowly, add the pump and wash away!
For the essential oils, lately, been using Young Living’s Thieves as it has antimicrobial properties, it’s great for the immune system and it’s really energizing. So exactly what you need right now! I also love making lemon and lavender soap for my kitchen soap bottle. It smells clean and fresh. Or grapefruit and peppermint for the boys bathroom. Their hands smell like heaven! And they don’t complain when I ask them to go wash their hands about 100 times a day! So many possibilities! Try it with your favorite essential oils and I’m sure it’s going to be a success. If you need more information about essential oils, send me a quick message and I’ll get you started!
Guess what! This is finally the end of a short but unbelievably loonnnnnng school year!!! I have to say that I think homeschooling was almost a success for a little while, I am very proud of my boys, they did very well, but I think that it was time for all of us to take a little break and start enjoying summer. The kids have been home for the past 3 months, and they’ve been working pretty hard on some days, until NOW. I want them to forget about homeschooling now and just have fun. Same for me, I think I need to recharge a little bit. Brian as well. I could really feel in the last few weeks that they too needed a well-deserved break, so I told them they would only have to do some reading for the last week of school. They were so happy about it, and thought I was such a cool teacher! Of course I am!
For the next 2 months, I plan on swimming every single day, reading so many books and playing with the boys. Summer will be different this year, that’s for sure, like not just summer, everything will be different, but I do not want to keep focusing on that, I want us to figure out how to have an amazing time in the new reality, and I am sure that we can. Last year at this time we had road trips to Picton, Kingston and Boston lined up. This year we have no plans, no vacations booked, and have no clue what we’re gonna be doing for the next little while, and that’s ok. I kind of appreciated being just the four of us during the quarantine, and to be honest, I realized that this was something we didn’t do enough before. We usually always have plans, or places to go, or people to be with… like, all the time. The pandemic really made us slow down and enjoy each other and what we have a little more, and I like that. That being said, I can’t wait to see all of my friends, and family, and have you all over for dinner, and finally re-book my trip to Disney World, or plan another trip, somewhere else… cause I am still me, but now that I was forced to stay home for a while, I kind of realized how much I love it!
So, with that being said, even if we haven’t made definite plans for the summer, I’m always down for a fun Summer Quarantine Bucket List!
It’s a new summer, full of possibilities and fun in the sun, and I plan on making the most of it. My boys are growing fast, and soon enough there’ll be summer jobs and friends to take over my time with them. So enjoying the moment and making memories is what it’s all about… I wish you all a fun and long summer! See you all by the pool or at the cottage!
So it’s Easter morning and it clearly doesn’t feel like it. The egg hunt is about to start, and although I still haven’t had my coffee yet, I can already tell you that it’s going to be one of the weirdest Easter Sunday ever…
Life is turned upside down and even if we can’t be with our family this weekend, we decided that we were still going to be celebrating.
I usually celebrate every chances I get, but this year, for Easter, things are a little different, and I wasn’t sure if I would actually do it… but guess what, no virus is gonna stop me from Easter! It’s going to involve video chatting to maintain the required physical distancing, but still, Easter is on, and I can’t wait to see my family over Zoom tonight!
Here’s a few things we’ve made the last couple of days to prepare for Easter weekend:
-Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs eggs
-Hand bunny puppets (seriously, 5 minutes crafts are the best)
-Egg carton painted flower wreath
-Bunny sugar cookie cake
-Took a thousand walks to see Easter decorations in our neighbourhood
-Read cute Easter books with the boys
We don’t have any plans today, other than the necessary Egg Hunt and our annual Chicken & Ribs Easter dinner. I might actually bake some cinnamon buns for breakfast, or it might just be Lucky Charms! Who knows!
Chicken & Ribs is a long lasting Easter tradition at my in-laws. And even if we can’t be together tonight, we are all cooking our own chicken and ribs and we’ll be eating all together via video chat. It’s in like 10 hours, and I am already wondering what I’m gonna wear. Please Easter Jesus, please don’t let me be lazy and wear my pyjama again. No, seriously, probably going to try to dress up for this one, I swear! (proooobably not gonna happen!!!)
I miss my friends, my family and everyone else in my life so much. But the best thing to do right now is to stay home and do our part. Thanks to everyone else who can’t stay home and have to go to work to do their part, we’re so thankful for all you do.
So if your plans got cancelled as well for Easter, don’t stress out about it, and don’t be sad that it’s not going to be a perfect Easter this year… just enjoy the moment and the fact that you are healthy and have a safe place to eat all of your chocolate treats and Cadbury eggs.
Stay home, stay safe, and stay healthy. Happy Easter My Lemon Drop Life family xox
Well that what quite the turn of events… On Thursday March 12, at about 4 pm, 14 hours prior our flight departure, we pulled the plug on our long awaited Disney World trip due to the coronavirus/Covid-19 crisis. We were completely heartbroken. So while the boys and I were crying our hearts out, Brian was on three different phones, calling the airline, hotel, car rental, etc. It was a real mess… but he was so patient with all this, knowing he was not the only one in this situation. After countless phone calls and hours on hold, he was finally able to get everything cancelled by Monday morning. So since then, like most people, we’ve been shackled down in our home, which I guess is not that bad. Our new daily routine includes taking walks, playing millions of games, drawing and crafting, as well as, since Monday morning, homeschooling the boys. I’m use to being with the boys for long periods of time, aka SUMMER, so the real adjustment has been with Brian. He’s really not used on staying home for long period of time. To say it’s been an adjustment would be putting it mildly! He had to get a hobby. And I am so glad he did! So while it’s getting trickier to run to the store to get some groceries amid this crisis, my husband has decided to make his own bread… and to my surprise, it’s not bad!
Our first try was really a test. But now that he’s tweaked the recipe, it’s actually just perfect! So I’ve decided to share it with you since you probably also have a bit more time on your hands and making bread is definitely now one of the highlights of our days!
Easter is only a few short weeks away and being in quarantine doesn’t make shopping for our little bunnies easy. So, I’m bringing you the best AMAZON EASTER LIST you are going to find! Most of these items can be shipped with Prime in a few days. Oh, if you don’t have Prime by now, get it! You’ll get two-day shipping on mostly everything on top of Prime movies and TV Shows… because let’s face it, if you have to stay home for a month like I do, it’s not gonna take long before you’ve seen all the best Netflix has to offer! Bonus, your husband can watch Jack Ryan or Treadstone, so it’s like you got them an early Easter present! So go ahead and fill out that cart… might has well add extra chocolate at the end, because you will NEED it at one point in the next few weeks! Hoppy shopping!
1. Instax: Still can’t get enough. Even if we have 2 in our house, I’m thinking I need one too!
2. Bunny Diffuser: You will need to diffuse lots of oil in the next little while and why not do it in Easter style. I recommend Stress Away from Young Living, especially if you have a few kids running around the house all-day.
3. Le petit lapin magique: Our favourite Easter book (there’s also one for Christmas). Only 2 books in this collection but they are so adorable. The drawings are soft and it’s a perfect gift for your little book lover. Logan loves to read this one to me… it’s the sweetest thing ever for my little bunny lover.
4. Bubble gun: I hate bubbles but the boys love them. It’s spring now, so send them outside and let them have fun. And no more sticky fingers with this bubble gun!
5. Egg Chalk: Need, need, need. We go through so much chalk over here it’s insane. These are super cute to add to your basket loot.
6. Mini scooter: Snow on the ground will soon be all gone and your young ones will love to ride this thing. So instead of giving them an easter basket, organize a treasure hunt around the house so they can find the scooter in the driveway at the end. That’s what I did 4 years ago and it was such a success.
7. Bunnies by the Bay: This one is my FAV. Logan’s bunny. We have 3 (well 5 if you count the 2 we’ve lost along the way) and he sleeps with them every night. Perfect for baby’s first Easter. The entire Bunnies by the Bay collection is awesome.
8. Sushi Go: We have this game and it’s the cutest. Fun too. Play this after diner or on the go at the restaurant. A family favourite.
10. Unicorn Bath Bombs: So many choices on Amazon, but I chose these because of their colors. Perfect for Easter.
11. iPhone Cable Have a teenager on that list? Get them a new cable… cause you know they are going to end up using yours. Love the Amazon Basics line. And the cable works great. I used to know because my boys (not sure which one of the 3) stole my pink one!
12. Jumpin’: We love this game. It’s not easy at all. Lots of levels for everyone to enjoy.
13. Bunny socks: Bought those a few years ago and we still wear them. Adorable, get a pair for each member of the family and then get the cutest picture.
14. How to draw Harry Potter: This item will for sure be in both boys’ basket. We’re obsessed with HP so we definitely need this. And the price is pretty awesome too!
15. Bunny Eye Mask: How cute!?! And inexpensive. Added to my cart already!
16. Mandalorian Lego: My boys can’t wait to get their hands on this set. They are obsessed… who am I kidding… I’m obsessed too!
17. IQ XOXO: Portable game. Perfect for long drives or at the restaurants. Not sure who loves it more, the boys or Brian. Great for the entire family.
18. Rainbow Stacking Blocks: I just love fun toys for babies that are durable and can be used forever. This set would be a great add to any baby basket.
So one of my ultimate dream finally came true: TO HAVE AN AMAZING WHITE KITCHEN!!!
From the moment I walked into my house while doing house hunting about 6 years ago, I knew this is where I was going to stay, but I also knew that this kitchen had to be re-done in white one day. It should have never been brown-ish from the first place. I remember walking through it for the first time and picturing it all-white, and it was so beautiful! So it was my only condition for buying the house. It needed to be white within 6 months. Well, 6 months turned into over 5 years, but we finally did it, we re-did our kitchen, and it is exactly as I’d pictured it in 2015, or even better, and here’s how it all happened.
Last spring, we started to talk about our summer plans, what we wanted to do in the next year, where we wanted to go, Brian was looking at houses on the market for our friends who were looking to move in town, and from time to time he would show one to me and say things like ‘‘look at this one… this one is really nice… would you like this one for us?’’. For me things were quite simple, like let’s not travel this summer and please stop looking at other houses, cause I love my house and I want to stay here, but let’s redo our kitchen, in white, please! Well if you follow my blog you know that we ended up traveling quite a bit last summer, so I guess I didn’t win that one – for now.
So summer happened and my plans were kind of put on hold, and instead of re-doing our kitchen, we went on multiple road trips and had a blast in the pool all summer long! Brian had actually never been a fan of this whole kitchen-reno-project-idea of mine. So I knew it would be a tough sell with him. But then, on my last weekend off of the summer, out of nowhere, I asked Brian if we could go to Ikea on Sunday morning to look at white counter tops, you know, just to get an idea, and he said yes!!! So just like that, this was the beginning of our kitchen reno. So at the same time as our back-to-school, which is probably the most hectic time of the year for me at work and home, we started a huge reno project. I knew that a full kitchen renovation wasn’t going to be easy for us, but man, I was not expecting it to be such an emotional roller coaster. Ishhh… I have to say that he was very good putting up with me for the following two months… still not sure how we got through this. But we did, so good for us!
After that visit to Ikea, I had a pretty good idea where this was going. So here what my original plan looked like: do it all ourselves, let’s paint the cabinets white, let’s take out that awful backsplash and replace it with white subway tiles, let’s put the cheapest white countertop we can find and then repaint the room floor to ceiling. Easy enough, right? I really thought we could do all of this in about a weekend or so. Hummmm, not really. That trip to Ikea was actually a game changer for me. While I thought I would have to settle for the cheapest laminate countertop to stay within our budget, I realized that getting a bright and shiny white Quartz countertop would actually not cost me a leg and an arm. So we shopped around a little and found the perfect all-white countertop at Granstone in Ottawa. Brian sent an email to the store for a quote on a Monday, picked up a few samples on the Wednesday, got some measurements done a week later, and basically, not even a month after sending that original email, all was done and it looked A-MA-ZING.
Granstone went above and beyond all of my expectations. First, their prices were really competitive, like we were so impressed with the price for the Quartz countertop that after receiving the first quote, we immediately asked them to add a quote for the backsplash, which they ended up doing as well. Dealing with them was actually the best part and the smoothest part of our entire reno. Like, I can’t for the life of me visit a renovation store when it comes to picking and choosing between this tile or that one. So many choices, way too many possibilities, and definitely not enough patience. So I sent Brian to pick out a few white countertop samples to bring back home and I selected my favorite one. Did the same with the backsplash. After that, within a few days, our kitchen was completely transformed. Here’s how it went down: on day one the tiles and counter were removed, on day two the wall was prepped for the new backsplash and on day three they brought in and installed my gorgeous Quartz white countertops. I was in love with it from the moment I saw it. Took a picture of my Big Mac meal that evening (because you eat lots of junk food during a kitchen reno) and posted it on Instagram saying something like: “Isn’t this the most beautiful Big Mac meal you’ve ever seen?” with the beaming white countertop in the back. I couldn’t stop staring at it. The following week was the backslash. I think I cried when it was done. We had it installed up to the ceiling and it’s so different and soft and perfect. They did an amazing job and I am so happy we found Granstone in the first place. If you’re thinking about doing a kitchen reno, you need to visit them. Oh, you can try to find a better price or better service somewhere else, but you won’t! If we would have known before, we would have done our kitchen reno years ago. We’ve already sent 2 of our friends there so far and they’ve both had amazing experiences. Ask for Jen, mention the blog, and you’ll get a discount, I swear!
So while the transformation with Granstone went smoothly, painting the cabinet didn’t. The original plan was to do everything ourselves, and now, all that was actually left for us to do was painting the cabinets, and it ended up being like HELL. I’ve had too many meltdowns to count and too many arguments to last a lifetime during that awful month. After the countertops and backsplash were done, I had no time to lose, the eager beaver in me wanted this project completed NOW!!! So I picked up the primer on a Friday night, washed and rinsed the cabinet doors with the recommended product, let everything dry for 24 hours, took the doors off and brought them downstairs in our Dexter’s kill room ready to be spray painted. Then our friends Danika and Scot came over to help us prime the cabinet doors. We were really counting on them to help us with this project since they had already painted their kitchen cabinets by themselves and the result was glorious (and because I had no clue whatsoever what I was getting myself into). So they came in with all the gears we could possibly need for this. They also came with a few advice, like when Scot said ‘’I’m pretty sure you need to sand those doors first, eh’’. But I had been told we could probably do it without sanding first, so in order to save time, that’s what we did. We aligned the 52 cabinet doors and drawers and gave a first coat of primer. Yes, 52. It took about 10 minutes with the spray paint gun, not bad, right?
After an hour of drying time, I went downstairs and that’s when I saw the mess. The primer did not stick to the wood. It had made bubbles everywhere and I wanted to scream. I was in total disbelief and couldn’t understand what was happening to us. So the next day we looked into it, googled what to do now, went back to the store, and apparently the first step for a project like this one is very simple, and it’s called ‘’take the time to sand those freaking cabinet doors first’’. So we brought all of the cabinet doors and drawers back upstairs, then outside a few at a time, stripped the first coat of primer, sanded both sides, and then washed and rinsed them all one by one. It doesn’t sound like much now, but at that point, our renovation project had taken a turn for the worse. Over the course of the following 14 days that’s literally all I did after work and on the weekends, and almost all by myself since Brian was out of town for work for a full week. It was a total chaos. I cried every time I picked up a new piece and brought it outside to work on it. Once we were done, my mom rewashed all of the doors and drawers and we started the primer part again. We gave 2 coats of primer, then 2 or 3 coats of paint depending on the results, and after about 40 hours of work, I was done. Oh, and I only painted the doors and drawers, as my mom ended up being the one priming and painting the cabinet frames while we were at work and the boys at school since you can’t really paint a kitchen with kids running around!
So I said earlier that the first time I walked into my kitchen I knew it had to be white… well I also had a few more ideas that came with it. One of the first thing I did was to order gold cabinet knobs on Amazon, and after 3 different orders, I finally got it right with my champagne gold knobs! Also bought a gold faucet, on Amazon as well, for like a quarter of the price I would have paid in store and it’s AMAZING. I originally went to a few stores to find the perfect gold faucet and I got a ‘’no we don’t, but please come back in like 20 years ago’’ answer. Eh, have you seen my kitchen, B*tch! I also knew that I needed to remove one of the stand-alone cabinet to make the room brighter. And that’s what I did. And it was one of the best decision of the entire project. It looks so much better now. That cabinet was right between the two windows and did absolutely nothing else than store crap. So I removed it, had backsplash installed up to the ceiling, and then decided to put two wooden floating shelves right between the windows. I was a bit skeptic at some point when Brian started to drill holes through my gorgeous ceramic tiles to mount the floating shelves properly, but he installed them like it was his day job and it worked perfectly! And now I’m obsessed with them. It’s like the perfect little spot to store my favorite mugs and candid pictures or festive little decorations. It really opened up the space and the wood gave some balance to all the white. Oh, yeah, about the balance with all the white… well at some point after we had primed the cabinet frames, Brian started to have this idea that it was going to be too white. I was confident it wouldn’t and argued with him that this was actually the point, to have a white kitchen. But after looking at pictures on Pinterest (that he found on his own new Pinterest account!), I decided that painting the island a different color may actually be the way to go. So I wanted pink, he wanted some sort of blue-green, and we settled for blue. A truly unique blue. We bought half a paint of blue. Didn’t like it. Bought another blue. Didn’t like it either. Bought a third blue. Still didn’t like it. Then, we started to mix them together and ended up trying different combinations until we found the perfect blue. With the gold knobs, and the white countertop, it is so beautiful.
The installation of the doors and drawers was bittersweet. I was so happy to finally have a white kitchen, yet so exhausted and tired that I could barely give a sh*t! By that time, all I wanted was to get the walls and ceiling painted asap so we could be done with this and not talk about kitchen reno for a long long time. So instead of doing it ourselves, as originally planned, we asked one of our friend to do it, and within 12 hours, the paint job was all done, which sealed the deal for our kitchen renovation.
It took way longer than I thought, but it was finally over. And now, I am so happy with the results, which is all that matters. Living without a proper kitchen for over a month was hard, especially with two kids. We lived with sealed cabinets for over two weeks, food scattered pretty much everywhere in the living room, tools covering up the kitchen table, cutlery drawers on the floor and way too many take-out meals, but we made it. What’s funny is that I can barely remember how it looked like before without looking at a picture. It’s crazy. It was a great kitchen, but I was right from the beginning, it was sooo meant to be white, and now it is, and I am going to enjoy it to the fullest.
Saturday mornings are now my favorites. I sit in my rocking chair with my pink cozy blanket and a latte in my hands and I can’t keep myself from staring and it. It wasn’t easy, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat if you’d ask me. My kitchen is where I spend the most time in my home. It’s where I cook meals for my family, where we entertain our friends and family, where the boys do their homework, where we share the best part of our day, where I rock my babies when they have sorrows, where we craft and where we love. And now, we can do all those things in my beautiful and bright WHITE kitchen. And that’s a dream come true!
Yep, I have nine year old boy. I’m so not ready for this… like some days I feel nine myself. But celebrating him last weekend made me feel so old. So, even if I’m not nine, I do NOT feel like the 39 that’s coming up a in a few weeks!
We spent about 10 days celebrating him! No, I’m serious. And he loved it. We were supposed to host his bday party on the Saturday and then Thursday night we were talking about cancelling it because of a major storm that was coming in. And then I had the brilliant idea to have it the next day instead. So with zero decorations done, no cakes and no food, I hopped into my car, went to Walmart, bought a load of crap and then got it done. Within 4 hours, I had done 2 cakes, prep food, blew about 50 balloons, hung pictures, made a chalkboard and called my mom for reinforcement for the washing-dishes-duty.
Next morning, Liam woke up in a Dog Man universe and he was ecstatic. He was so happy to wake up to a fully decorated house and also that he didn’t have to wait another day for his bday party. And this made me super happy. It hasn’t been the easiest of year for him… he’s dealing with severe social anxiety (something I usually don’t talk too much about), so it’s not always easy for him and by time we’ve struggled. School is very hard, the pressure he’s putting on himself is awful and seeing him feeling like he’s not good enough for anything is heartbreaking. So having some time just for him and celebrating him was just the best.
So after work we hurried back home to put the final touch on the party planning and then waited for our guest. He had chosen the Dog Man party theme because he’s obsessed with the comic books. I think he’s read them 50 times each. So when I suggested it as a party, he was hooked!
The best part of the night was when he went around and asked everyone for a one on one Photo Booth picture for them to remember his party. It was so great to see him ask everybody for a picture, something that is so easy for some to do but for him takes so much courage. And then we made a mosaic of the Polaroid so he could have everyone he loves in one picture.
Celebrating my babies is definitely one of my favorite thing in the world and I will never stop. What do you want, I celebrate everything: good days, an awesome movie, a stuff animal we love or any other days that need a bit more magic.
I’ve read a Chrismas-y quote somewhere and it really captured me, so I’m sharing it with you. “As a grown-up, I’ve learned that all the Christmas magic I felt as a kid was really a mom who loved me so damn much”. That’s basically how I feel. I will never stop believing in magic and I sure hope my boys will never stop either.
So, to my baby boy: I love you so much just the way you are. And always remember, a beautiful thing is never perfect.