skating with the wolves

For all of you in the Ottawa region who do not have plans tomorrow for family day, I’ve got the thing just for you; and if you already do have plans, keep on reading anyway as you’ll want to visit this skating venue before the end of winter. My friend and coworker Anne-Marie told me last week that she was going skating in the forest, and that got me immediately curious and interested… and once she came back, while she was telling me all about it, she knew I would be all over this. Right after looking at her pictures, I made plans to visit the beautiful skating village at Lac des Loups.

Getting up late is never an option at our house (unless you’re first name starts with a B apparently), but this Saturday we were all up before 7:30, had an early breakfast, packed some snacks, as well as the good camera, got all of our skates in the car and on our way we were. To go where exactly, the boys asked? To go skate with the wolves we said!

Skating is like our new favourite thing. The boys never even wanted to touch a pair of skates since 3 weeks ago. And now, can’t keep count of how many times we skated in the last few weeks. So skating with the wolves got them really excited.

We got to Skating through the Forest at around half past ten and within minutes we were on our way. One word: WOW! This place is incredible. It was love at first sight for me. How come I had never heard of this place before? Four kilometres of skating trails in the forest. The minute you step out of the cabin you’re on the ice and the trails awaits for you. We decided to borrow one of the available sleigh for the boys knowing they wouldn’t skate the full circle. As soon as we were in the forest, it was like we were alone in our own little piece of paradise. The sun was peaking through the trees, the birds were chirping and the squirrels were following us on our journey. Everybody was enjoying themselves and having fun. Liam was going from skating with us to enjoying a well deserved break in the sleigh, while Logan skated a bit but mostly was there to enjoy a free ride, as I think he enjoyed being pulled way too much to get out! Every couple of hundred meters there’s either a bench or standing area to give you little breaks. We did the entire trail and we can’t wait to be back doing it again. Hopefully next time we’ll ride the trails at night with torchlights illuminating the pathway. Skating in the Forest is fabulous and so much fun during the day, but I can just imagine the place at night; as it must be stunning.

We had one of the best morning, even with Brian’s complaining about his skates and feet hurting! This new found love for skating is a lot of fun for the kids but kind of a challenge for us who hadn’t skated in years! Still, I was able to show off some of my figure skating best moves; and please don’t laugh at my pictures… I swear I was able to do some almost perfect figures but Brian was just not able to take the shots! Yeah, I’m blaming the photographer and not the fact that my legs can’t get as high as they used too! The ice was in great shape, the weather was just perfect and we had the most enjoyable time. The boys kept howling like wolves in the sleigh, hoping to see the mascot Loupie somewhere, unfortunately, we didn’t and Logan shed a few tears before we left. Maybe next time Loggy Bunny.

Our perfect morning turned out to be even better when Brian decided to take us to a nearby place he had been before, The Chelsea Pub in Old Chelsea, about 20 minutes from our original destination and 45 minutes from home. The pub was great, and it reminded me of one of my favourite place ever, The Cottage in Lake Placid. Small, cozy and full of life, with friends catching up, families back from skiing, at least one back from skating, with many others just there to enjoy a great time at the pub. We had some drinks and delicious food, but sadly, I was way too full to try one of the awesome deserts that were displayed right next to our table. Next time for sure! And next time might be even sooner rather than later, as my girlfriends and I are looking for a cottage close to the Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsea for our yearly Spring weekend girls’ getaway.

So really, you should all cancel your plans for tomorrow and go buy your tickets for Skating in the Forest, then make a reservation at the Chelsea Pub to enjoy some of the most delicious pub food in the region as well as a pint or two, cause after all, Monday is family day, and family day is a Holiday! And just like that your family day will be perfect!

If you do go to The Chelsea Pub, could you please bring me a piece of that awesome looking cheesecake on the second top shelf of the dessert display? Anyone, please!!!

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olympic ready

We are officially ready to cheer! Cheer for the Olympic games that is! We love the Olympics and we couldn’t be more excited. For two weeks we’ll be seated at the edge of our seats waiting for results, times, scores, medals, etc. Well, maybe we will already know the results because of time difference with Pyeongchang, but still, it’s so nerve racking to watch our Canadian athletes perform!

The boys loved to watch the last summer Olympics and were in awe for every competition, but mostly for diving… as they couldn’t believe real people were doing crazy stuff like that! We then started playing in the pool, jumping around, where I would present each of them as if they were contestants. Liam surprised us and did a front flip for the first time (without anyone knowing this was coming) and we went all crazy! He was so proud of himself right after he came out of the water, not too sure of what had just happened; but I was almost as proud of myself for catching it on video! We still cheer every time we watch it. And if he makes it to the Olympics one day, well that will make an awesome feel-good story on TV, with the video of its first jump ever!

So to say we are ready for some friendly winter competition is an understatement. The boys’ stuffed animals have already been competing in acrobatic skiing and jumping, winning soccer and go-kart medals as well as some of Brian’s dad old trophies we keep in the boys’ room!

We’ve also decorated our home with flags of various countries, drew the Olympic rings on the blackboard, and gathered all our Go-Canada gear. Found the cutest Olympic long john’s at The Bay for the boys, so fun to dress them in one-piece again!

We will be watching the Opening Ceremony tomorrow night with an Olympic flag pizza (which I’ll try to re-create from Pinterest). I’ve also made this cute cake in the shape of a tuque! We had so much fun baking and decorating our mini-donuts to build the Olympic rings. There is now sprinkles everywhere in my house, though!

Competitions are already underway, as there was some curling and alpine skiing today, so Go Canada! We’ll be watching and cheering for all of our athletes; and medal or not, you guys make us proud anyway. Good luck to all.

So, even if we’re full on-cheering for Canada with our gears and everything ready in our house, we will also be – very closely – following and cheering for one of our neighbors from the United States, Andrew Weibrecht, who has a special place in our hearts. Andrew’s family owns the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, and although we weren’t able to meet with him when we visited the beautiful MLI in December, we certainly got the chance to admire his two Olympic medals at the reception desk, and would love to see a another one on the wall next time we’re visiting. He’ll now be in his 3rd games, and I have to say that I will be cheering for him in his super-G races.

So Go Canada Go! And Go Andrew Go. Make us all proud! I wish you all some great 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic games.

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the game, the hearts and the food

Hello February! It feels like I’ve been longing for you for a full month now, or even more. For the first time since Christmas Eve, (touching wood) nobody’s sick. FINALLY! Still, we opted to stay home most of the weekend to catch up on some household chores, and for some cooking and baking. Early Saturday we decorated the house for Valentine’s Day and then made a cute little buffet in the living room. Like most of you, we’re also getting ready for the big game tonight! Go Brady! So today, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recipes –which I’ve posted over the last year– that you could do for your Super Bowl party or in the next few weeks as sweet treats for V-Day!

Love, love, love to decorate for Valentine’s Day. You know, with all the pink colored stuff, the hearts, the love; what’s not to love! The boys keep on telling me it’s my month because of my birthday coming later this month, because I’m all hearts and holidays, and because pink is my favorite color! I guess they’re right, so I’ll take it. So after we took out all the cute stuff from our V-Day’s decoration box, we decided that baking some heart shaped pop-tarts would be an awesome idea. We made some dough, mixed some berries with sugar and flour and within an hour we had ourselves a little buffet in the living room.  So fun to mix it up once in a while. The boys really enjoyed brunch outside the kitchen for once… I, on the other hand, had multiple panic attacks making sure none of the chocolate glaze would end up on the cream colored couch. Oh well, we all survived… and the couch too! Here’s the link to my pop-tarts recipe from when I shared it on the blog the first time. The recipe was for traditional shaped pop-tarts, but you can have fun with it and make pop-tarts of any shapes or sizes. This time, we went for some mini-heart-shaped-pop-tarts-pop; and they were delicious, and so much fun to eat! And if you add chocolate glaze and sprinkles, you’ve got a winner!

So for tonight’s game, you absolutely NEED our spicy chili, my to-die for guacamole and these heavenly pretzels. You still have time to do all of this before the game, but hurry! This house is rooting for Brady and the Patriots, but the house where we’ll be watching the game from isn’t… so this could be interesting; I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these awesome pretzels end up flying around when the other team score a touchdown! Still, we should all be pretty cheerful for the amazing food we’ll have!

One of the things we’re also super excited about is the Olympics! So starting next Friday, we will be glued to the TV watching reruns of sporting events (damn you different time-zone) while cheering for our country. The boys are already running around the house waving their flags and playing medals ceremony! More on that in my next blog post!

Hope your team wins tonight… I know mine will. And hope you are decorating your house for V-Day, just because it’s so much fun to do so! February is MY month and I plan on enjoying it as much as possible. Can’t wait to go out skating, and skiing, and snowshoeing, or even simply to take a walk; it’s so beautiful outside –once you look beyond the driveway you still have to shovel! Happy Super Bowl Sunday my friends!

 

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the good, the bad and the yummy

So, as the title says, I’ve got some mixed feelings about this week. So many highs and lows in a short period of time. Pure moments of happiness followed by the immediate need to crawl in bed and sleep for days until everything gets back to normal. Life is such a roller-coaster sometimes! Just a few more days until a new month begins, finally. So bring me all the heart stuff and birthday cake this February, cause this girl is ready (to turn 37, oh boy)!!!

We’ve all been sick since the beginning of January, and just when I thought things were taking a turn for the best, BOOM, Logan gets hit by it. Our poor baby has had a fever since Saturday, and he’s now been diagnosed with Scarlet fever. So, he’s missed all week of school and has spent numerous hours in hospital and clinics. I’m crossing my fingers that we’re in the home stretch! He’s been so amazing, thought, as he barely complained through it all! Unlike myself, as I feel like I’ve complained all week about everything; but I am just so tired of everyone being sick at home and not being able to enjoy winter like we normally do. Hopefully I will catch up on the missed hours of sleep this weekend.

So that was the bad in one short paragraph, now here’s the good! I actually feel like “the good” doesn’t quite describe what happened to me… it’s more like as if I am a different person now, and I will never be the same anymore… so I guess I should consider my last Thursday night movie date with my girl friend Véro as a life changing event, and nothing less! You might think that I am being a tad dramatic here when I say life changing, but that is the closest thing to how I feel, so bare with me! A few weeks ago, we had planned to go see The Greatest Showman last Thursday… so with 3 hours of sleep the night before, I was a bit tired, but still felt as if I needed a night off to the movies more than anything else. And thank God for it. From the first few seconds of this future Oscar winning movie I was hooked and already in love with all of it. Now thinking about it, I can’t believe I didn’t go see that movie before and that my life has been deprived of such entertainment for a full month! Well NO MORE! The soundtrack will play on and on from now on and until probably like forever! As I was watching the movie, at some point I felt like I might be having a heart attack: I was having such a rush, with so much to see, with the music, the colors, the costumes and the story line, which kept on taking my breath away for the full two hours. It’s a musical, so it may not be for everyone (I almost disowned my own mother after she told me she didn’t like La La Land as I couldn’t take the rejection!). But if you do enjoy musicals and want to be entertained while being taken away at a time when show business was a new thing, give it a chance and you won’t be sorry! I still have chills thinking about it and wondering when I can squeeze-in another viewing. The soundtrack is playing in the background as I am writing this, so I may have gotten taken away myself… but hopefully it does win an Oscar!

Now, for the yummy, or my second life changing event of the week: The Croque Monsieur! Oh yes, I am all over the place this week; no worry, I already know! So a few days before Christmas we had lunch at Art Is In Bakery in Ottawa and it was simply delicious. I think it may have been my first time having a real Croque Monsieur. And it was delicious. With all the crappiness of the last couple of days, well I decided to try and make my own homemade Croque Monsieur. LIFE CHANGING. (May I remind you that The Greatest Showman soundtrack is still playing in the background, so I may be feeling excessively joyful while thinking of Croque Monsieur and Hugh Jackman and I may be just over exaggerating a little here, calling a sandwich life changing, but it is still really something, I swear!). I was sitting alone in the kitchen, working on my never ending Harry Potter puzzle (the fabulous life of a blogger) when I had a moment of pure happiness as I took my first bite. Yes, this sandwich did and will give you happiness. So, I’m sharing this recipe with you while adding that you should definitely run to the supermarket and make it this weekend. You will thank me for it! Whoever said money can’t buy happiness is probably right, but money can buy cheese, and cheese makes me happy; so here goes this recipe!

Croque Monsieur

What you need:

4 slices of bread (I used Italiano bread)

a few slices of Black Forrest Ham

2 cup of Gruyere cheese shredded

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper

How to:

First you have to make the Bechamel sauce. Don’t worry, super easy; it was my first time and it turned out great! In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat and then add the flour. Whisk non-stop for about 2-3 minutes. Then slowly add the milk, a little bit at a time, while still whisking. Mix until smooth and thick. Remove from heat, add the Dijon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let cool down before using. I made the Bechamel the day before and stored it in the fridge until I was ready to use.

Heat the oven at 425. Place parchment paper on the bottom of a baking sheet. Place two bread slices on the baking sheet and spread some Bechamel sauce on one side of each. Don’t be shy with the sauce, it’s amazing. Place the ham on top of the Bechamel and then add 1/2 cup of the Gruyere on each. Spread some sauce on both sides of the two unused slices of bread and place them both on top of the cheese and ham. Use the remaining of the Gruyere and cover the top of both sandwiches. Place in oven until the cheese is melted, for about 10 minutes, then broil for a few minutes until golden, but keep an eye on it, as you don’t want to burn them.

I ate my Croque Monsieur with a light salad and it was great. It’s so filling, that honestly you don’t really need a side, but the freshness of the lettuce helps balance the richness of the sandwich.

So, here’s my advice to you, run to the supermarket to get some nice Gruyere and ham, make the Croque Monsieur for lunch or even diner; then, put on your sweatpants and head out to the movie theater to watch The Great Showman. Your hearts and tummies will be thankful! Have a great weekend my friends.

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zombies are coming

I’m now officially the mom of a 7 year old. Not sure how we got here, but for sure it did happen WAY too fast! Mind-blowing how time flies; like even if you take the time to enjoy every day and every little thing they do, you always end up not knowing how they grew up so quick. He was a baby a minute ago and now he’s a little boy who loves to argue with me, sometimes even questioning my motherhood’s decision making skills. Yeah, mind-blowing isn’t it?

So, a few weeks ago I was chatting with Liam about what theme he wanted for his upcoming birthday party. He smiled, and then answered, pretty sure of himself, with one word: ZOMBIES!!! Yep… cute birthday themes (that I choose and then make him believe he’s the one who got the idea in the first place) are officially over. I really tried to make him change his mind, but he was having none of it. So I caved… then started to look for Plants VS Zombies stuff… and found next to nothing. So printing images and cutting them became my main activities during the last few days prior to the B-day party.

One of the best thing about this year’s birthday party preparations is that we mostly did it all together. The boys were really into it, and I got to say that their cutting and scotch taping skills are much better now! They really worked hard on setting up the game wall; and they did an awesome job at it! They also helped me bake the cake and then watched me very closely as I was making the fondant plants and zombies cake decorations. My heart is full every time I bake with them, even with Zombies everywhere!

The first party was Friday night; and on Thursday morning I called my mom requesting some help and some zombie hats. By the end of the day she had picked up the boys from school, cleaned my floors, made diner and knitted two cute zombie hats for the boys. They were ecstatic when they saw it! Liam’s been wearing his non-stop this week. Thanks Mom, you are truly the best! Friday night was really laid back, pizza night with our friends, no agenda, with the kids playing downstairs, putting on shows and playing hockey and stuff while we were all chatting in the kitchen. There was no meltdown during cake time this year… unlike 2 years ago when the boys lost it as soon as the girls started to eat the fondant on the back of the crocodile cake while we were singing happy birthday… made pretty funny pictures, though! So Liam made some 7th year old birthday wishes and then the kids shared ‘brain’ and ‘plants’ cupcakes. And that was it for party number one.

Next day, on Liam’s actual birthday, we started the celebrations with birthday French toasts and gifts. Well, no, gifts then French toasts, as he had already asked for some b-day gifts before I was even out of bed! After that we played games all day long while waiting for our family to arrive. On the menu: spaghetti and pizza (both Liam’s favorite food) and then some more cake. We love having our family over for birthdays and I hope it will never stop… the house might be full but that’s what it’s for, and that’s how we like it!

Then on Sunday, we had invited Liam’s best friend to join us for a fun day full of activities. First, we went to play a game of laser-tag… where I finished in first place, out of 9 players! I got to say that my laser-tag skills are pretty amazing! Then, lunch at McDonald’s, because when you ask 3 boys where they want to eat, that’s what you get. And then we finished our day at Flying Squirrel, an indoor trampoline park. They all really loved it. It’s actually rare that Liam gets crazy excited about a activity (beside playing games on the Nintendo or Ipad), so I really enjoyed watching him having fun while running and jumping everywhere with his friend Gab and Logan. He had the best of time and we can’t wait to be back.

It was a pretty amazing birthday for our boy. He’s so special, and kind. Not sure how I got so lucky to be his mom, but I’ll take it. When he woke up, I wished him Happy Birthday, and he just looked at me and told me Happy Birthday right back… I asked him why and he said it was my birthday too, because 7 years ago I became a Mom. This one sure knows how to make me cry. So it was my birthday too, I guess. So, even if I couldn’t choose the birthday theme this year, it was still an awesome weekend as we had to celebrate our baby. Like it says in my favorite song from when I was pregnant with him seven years ago: ‘There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do, Go to the ends of this Earth for you, To make you feel my love’.

Bonne fête Crocky d’amour!

Love you so much,

Mom xox

 

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that kind of week, plus a tomato soup

I won’t lie to you, this week was a mess. Sick, tired, in pain, all that while planning a birthday party and having to go back to school. But, still trying to stay positive and pushing through the week, anxiously waiting for a bit of rest and for Liam’s 7th birthday this Saturday.

On January 2nd, right after all the Christmas and NYE festivities were over, with one week off work (and school) to go, I woke up with a sharp pain in my lower back… So, no snowshoeing or playing outside in the snow with the boys during the last few days of our holidays, mainly just trying to limit my movements while on pain killers. Then, strep throat kicked in by Friday night, killing all of our weekend plans. I’ve had two bouts of strep throat in October and thought it was enough for the year, but no, I had to go through hell one more time, only to end my vacation sick in bed, basically sleeping and aching for 48 hours straight. Then it was Brian’s turn to go through it. And he got it pretty bad… Now he knows exactly what I been through in October and a few days ago! But still, I do not wish this to anyone, trust me. 

Let’s just say it’s not the smooth back to school I was hoping for! Both of us sick, taking turns heating the magic bag, taking naps, while mainly living on a soup diet. Mmm, soup! So now that I’m feeling better, I’d like to share the Creamy Tomato Soup recipe that got me through this awful week; just in case you’re feeling blue like I did or just because once in a while everyone need a great homemade tomato soup! 

What you need:

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup dice onions

1 glove garlic, minced

2 tablespoon tomato paste

1 can crushed tomato

3 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper

How to:

In a large saucepan, heat on medium heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken stock and the crushed tomato can. Cook on low for 30 minutes, stirring once in a while. Remove from heat and using an immersion blender, or a regular one, blend the soup. Add the cream and mix well. Serve immediately with homemade baguette croutons or a grilled cheese. 

It was my first time making this recipe and it beats any canned tomato soup for sure. So comforting and delicious and creamy. Great on any winter day, but simply the best when you’re sick and your throat hurts like hell, believe me!

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new year and a leftover sandwich


Happy New Year My lemon drop life friends! Hope you had the best of time ringing in the new year; I know we sure did! Last year we went on this beautiful sleigh ride on the 31st which ended up being one of my all-time fav NYE ever. This year we were planning on doing the exact same thing, so we had booked a sleigh ride at Fairmont Château Montebello on Sunday afternoon with some of our best friends, but with the extreme cold weather, sadly, we had to cancel. Instead, we opted for indoor activities –virtual golf for the boys and movies for the moms and kids-, followed by take-out dinner from the best Indian restaurant, lots of board games, champagne and cupcakes, sparkles and crowns, as well as fun eats and treats for everyone!

For the last couple of years we’ve been hosting New Year’s Eve at our place with our friends and their kids; but don’t get excited here, as it is nothing fancy or complicated like the NYE parties we used to go to years ago. Nope, we’re now just a bunch of people who want to spend the last evening of the year in pure laziness wearing pyjama’s while enjoying music, drinks, but still, with a lot of fun times on the menu. Yep, that’s just the way I like it!

This year the kids actually all stayed up late enough to celebrate the NYE countdown with us. I can still remember a time when we had play pens installed in every rooms of the house for all the sleeping babies. Not anymore! They played downstairs by themselves for most of the night, building forts, playing Mario Kart, watching a movie and singing karaoke! Next year I’m bringing that karaoke system upstairs, and it will be the mom’s turn to put on a NYE show!

All the kids went to bed clearly past their bedtime, some of them falling asleep on the couch and some others asking to go to bed; but not Liam, as he was still chatting with us in the living room at like 1:30 am when he finally fell asleep on the couch. We really need to go back to our regular schedule asap, if not, next Monday’s return to school will be brutal! So next morning was pretty lazy and relax with everyone waking up later than usual. We made it a bit late to my mom’s brunch, which consisted of delicious homemade paninis (in the panini grill I got her for Christmas!), salads and potatoes. Miam! We then played card games and bingo with the boys in the afternoon where I won a flute, Logan some cut off gloves and Liam a toonie.

On New Year’s Day we always go for dinner at Lulu’s place with the Woodbury family, and this year was no exception. I’d say that Brian’s aunt served dinner for something like 40 relatives over something like five different sittings. Yeah, a full-on turkey dinner with all the fixings that was beyond amazing; all that plus a choice of five different kind of pies for dessert. I don’t know how she does it! The boys had a blast with their cousins making Snapchat videos, paper airplane contests and jumping up and down the basement walls and couches. By the end of the evening, they were exhausted and it didn’t take three minutes for them to fall asleep when we left. And that concluded the holiday season for us. I’m sad that it’s all over, but at the same time I’m glad that I can now spend a few days at home with the boys with nothing planned; PJs all day being the only thing on the schedule for now!

The Christmas decorations are down, the tree is in the garage, the house is mostly cleaned-up from our NYE party, so it’s almost back to normal, other than the fact that we’re still basically living on leftovers. So if you’re like us and have some of that delicious turkey left, you’ll enjoy this awesome recipe; which is definitely the best way to get rid of your leftovers in an amazing and delicious way; here it goes!

What you need:
-Crusty bread
-Leftover turkey
-Mayo
-Cranberry jelly
-A few Brie cheese slices
-Butter
-Granny Smith apple

How to:
Butter the crusty bread on both sides. Mix 2 tablespoons of mayo with 2 tablespoons of the cranberry jelly. Spread on one side of both pieces of bread. Add turkey, apple slices and Brie cheese. Top with the second bread slice. Using a panini maker or a cooking pan, grill the bread until golden (turning once if using a pan). Cut in half and enjoy! Such an easy way to enjoy some delicious turkey and that amazing holiday taste one last time!

Hope you’ve made some good resolutions for the new year. I’m still trying to figure out mine, but as always, trying to be a better person will surely be on top of the list. Then reading, running and travelling more! 2017 was great to me and my family… but I’m ready for more and I can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring us. Happy New Year everyone, let’s hope it’s a good one!

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our christmas

Hope your Christmas was merry and bright. Ours was, and as always we had a jam-packed schedule; but that is clearly how we love it!

The boys were super excited on Christmas Eve, so I decided to put my long to-do list on the side and go snowshoeing with them to burn off some of that energy. It was kind of cold outside, but not enough to prevent us from enjoying our nice walk by the river. Definitely something I would like do every Christmas Eve from now on. After that we had a light lunch and it was already time for the kids Christmas Eve’s nap. They didn’t like the idea that they had to take a nap, but knowing that they would go to bed past midnight, we knew they had to. After the nap, they got dressed up, we packed the car with food and gifts and we were on our way.

We have had this amazing fondue dinner at my mother-in-law on Christmas Eve for years, and this year was no different. It’s just so nice to start the Holiday Season with a nice dinner that does not involve turkey! So after dinner we all opened some gifts and then had a lot of fun with our yearly gift exchanged thing. I’m so happy that Brian and I ended up with the two things I really wanted!!! Since my kids are the youngest on both sides of Brian’s family, well they were the only ones that kept on asking for more gifts, literally ALL-NIGHT-LONG! But what’s Christmas without a little excitement, right?

We then made our way to our second family gathering of the night at my father-in-law’s for the Woodbury ‘Réveillon de Noel’. Just before midnight, Liam, who was kind of quiet so far, told me he had a headache, so I gave him a bit of medicine as he looked like he was starting a fever and wasn’t really himself. Logan on the other hand had a blast. He danced, he sang Christmas song with uncle Bobby, and he was super excited to see Santa. The boys finally went to bed at around 1:30 am. Yep! We then kept on partying until something like 2:30, then decided it was time to head back home.

Home is about 45 minutes away, but it nearly took us 2 hours to get there. We had looked at the weather forecast in the afternoon in order to decide if we should sleep over or come back home, and as expected (and forecasted), there was like a beautiful Christmas Eve light snowstorm going on when we left; but then, 15 minutes later, we were driving in a pure blizzard… and I wanted to cry as I couldn’t see a thing 15 feet in front of me! It was white everywhere, and I couldn’t see the road, or the shoulder lane, or the ditch, or like anything, but luckily, Brian didn’t fell asleep and did his best to keep me calm so we would make it home safely. I will NEVER drive in a snow storm like that one again. Let’s just say that by the end of that ‘beautiful’ Christmas Eve snowstorm, there was at least foot of snow in our driveway, which was way more than expected. We should have clearly stayed there and continue to party instead of driving back home!

So, we got to bed at around 4:30 am only to be woken up at 8 by an excited and joyful Logan. By that time, Santa had come, had eaten the cookies, drank the milk, and had left each of the boys the toy they had asked him. Liam woke up with a severe sore throat and a headache, so gifts opening was quieter than usual for him. The boys got the new Nintendo Switch console as a surprise, and they were really happy about it, but with Liam not having as much energy, the reaction was kind of mellow, or not as loud as expected! For months now, Liam has been talking about the Nintendo Switch… so when he told us 3 weeks ago that his best friend from school was probably having one for Christmas, we told him that he was still too young for it and would have to wait a few more years before he’d get one… his response was ‘I will never get the Switch; I will only get the Switch when I’ll be 30 years old’… so dramatic, I wonder where he gets this from… so anyway, we were expecting him to jump all over the place, but poor little thing, he was clearly not feeling too well. My favorite gifts the boys got are clearly their new Mario and Luigi pajamas; and I guess it was Logan’s favorite as well, as he did not take it off yet since he opened it! They look so funny in them, so I couldn’t care less if he’s spent the last 3 days wearing it!

We were hosting Christmas dinner at our house. And I just love this new tradition: my Mom and Frank bring all the food and I provide the house! My brother and his family came over as well as my aunt Lise-Ann and her family. We opened more gifts and then ate too much food. The kids were all playing downstairs, and at some point my nephew came up and I asked him what were they all doing and he told me that they were all playing Mario Kart, except for Liam who was watching them from the couch under his blanket. Well that’s clearly not Liam, as he’s a Mario Kart pro (and addict!). So I went downstairs to get him, and poor little thing, he was having a fever. He was shivering and in really bad shape. So yeah, I put him to bed at 6 on Christmas Day. He was so sad he couldn’t enjoy Christmas Day with his cousins, but the only thing he wanted was to go to bed. He woke up 14 hours later. I guess he needed to rest. Dinner was delicious; dessert too. Everyone was gone by 10, and then I just sat by myself in the living room, listening to Christmas music on the record turntable while watching the tree lights. It never last long enough. I was so sad it was already over. But still, it was a great Christmas season, and I enjoyed every moments of it.

Boxing Day was pretty boring at our house. The day started with Liam throwing up in our bed. So I did some laundry, then cleaned up the house a little while staying in our jammies all day. By the end of the day, Liam was back to his usual self and started to play the new console like a pro. The best part of my day was when I started a 1000 pieces puzzle. Woot woot. Party animal over here!

We’re still in la-la-land over here, enjoying our two weeks holiday, not caring what we’ll do today, when we’ll get dressed up or what to eat next. So far it feels like all we’ve eaten this week is leftovers from Christmas. Hello leftovers! I will share the Ultimate Leftover Turkey Sandwich later this week, so don’t miss this one, as I’m pretty sure all of you will have everything you need in your fridge to do this on January 2nd!

Even if Christmas was not picture perfect, it was still great, and of course the best time of the year. We spent lots of time cuddling and being together and that’s the best part of it. Right now it’s minus 40 degrees Celsius over here, so were staying inside, playing with our new games and living on leftovers and hot chocolate. Not too bad, right? Well, I hope Santa was good to all of you and that you’ve spent time with the people you love. Now, let’s get ready for NYE!

 

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christmas worthy french toast

For a very long time, I didn’t eat French Toast. You know, soggy bread with a mushy texture… I don’t know, just wasn’t a fan. I do love maple syrup, but French Toast, bleh! I would rather have a bowl of cereal or Nutella toasts instead.

Well that is until my mom found an awesome recipe in the LCBO magazine Food and Drink, years ago. Life changing! It’s mostly all the same ingredients that you would find in your regular FT recipe… but… wait for it!

So we usually eat French Toast on Sunday morning when we’re not having the best breakfast in town at Brian’s aunt Lulu; but above all, we ONLY eat French Toast when we have had a nice dinner on the night before that included a bread baguette. I’m telling you, you won’t EVER throw away any left over baguette once you’ve tried this recipe. Of course you can use a fresh baguette, but it’s so much better when you use food you would have normally wasted. So from now on, save every pieces of baguette that’s left after dinner, freeze it in a Ziploc bag and keep it until you’re ready to make French Toast on a beautiful Sunday morning. I’d say you’ll need about 4 or 5 slices of bread per person, but you can clearly make a few more, and there’ll be none left, trust me!

So you’re probably telling yourself “well what could possibly make these French Toast sooo special?”. Well the secret lies somewhere between the maple syrup and the choice of bread! Now that I’ve already told you about the bread thing, here’s what you need to know about the maple syrup: well you put it IN the batter; cause that’s where the magic happens! With the smaller baguette pieces, the crust will caramelized while cooking, giving you less soggy bread and more crispy goodness to devour!

Easy to make, even when entertaining a crowd for brunch. I can assure you that these will be a hit. So here goes my version of the recipe.

What you need:

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

baguette slices for 4

Easy as 1-2-3!

1- Mix all wet ingredients

2- Dip one bread slice at a time in the batter mixture

3- Place them in a buttered skillet on med-high heat and cook until both sides are golden (and yummy!)

Dress it up with more maple syrup, powdered sugar and fresh fruits. And VOILA!

Easy to make, tastes like heaven and takes no time at all. Perfect addition to your Christmas morning family brunch, but honestly, I prefer having them randomly on any other given weekend whenever I’m feeling like it.

Hope the next couple of days will be good to you; wishing you the happiest of Holidays, and the tastiest of French Toast somewhere between Christmas and NYE. Merry Christmas mylemondroplife friends! xx

 

 

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mirror, mirror, who is the fairest of them all

Well let me tell you… I think I may have found it, the fairest of them all, and it’s actually not too far from home! My family and I have spent last weekend in some sort of winter wonderland fairy-tale, and I am so excited to tell you all about it.

So as I said in last week’s post, we were invited by the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid for the Holiday Village Stroll weekend; and I can tell you that we won’t forget a moment of it. It was a weekend filled with so many Christmas lights, numerous Holidays activities, breathtaking views, as well as memories that will last us a lifetime.

Here’s how it all happened… so earlier this year, while we were planning our summer vacation in Lake George, I was browsing online, looking for some activities for us to do over there; I remember Googling something like ‘what to do in the Adirondack’ and then stumbled upon this cute hotel in Lake Placid, the Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa. Right there, simply by looking at the hotel’s website, I knew I had to visit it one day. So then later, like sometime in October, I looked further into it and saw some of their winter pictures on their website and Trip Advisor… and I simply fell in love with the place. I then decided to contact them to let them know I was planning on visiting Lake Placid in December to take some pictures and to blog about it… Fast forward a few weeks later and MLI had officially invited us to spend what seemed to be like the ultimate December-Holiday-weekend.

It felt like November would never end, as we couldn’t wait for our weekend getaway to arrive. The boys were so excited when we told them we were going on a family vacation; yet, kind of disappointed when we told them we were driving to get there. They always associate the word vacation with plane! But now, let me tell you, they are both quite happy that the Mirror Lake Inn is just a short drive away, as they both desperately want to go back.

We left on Friday at noon with snacks packed for the drive, as well as the iPad and Nintendo DS… which they played with until they both fell asleep right after we passed the US Customs. The ride was so smooth, and beautiful, mostly on country roads, with more and more freshly fallen snow covering the tall pine trees along the way up into the Adirondack. On our way there, we’ve listened to both our favorite Christmas albums, Michael Bublé for me and Zooey Deschanel’s She and Him for Bry (please don’t judge him!), while chatting the entire way. When we first spotted the Mirror Lake as we drove downhill towards it, the sun was hitting the mountains behind; and the view was just stunning. The boys woke up, and finally, we had arrived; all of us excited to be there. The first view of Mirror Lake Inn as we pulled in was just as expected: breathtaking. I knew it was going to be gorgeous, I mean I had already seen hundreds of pictures of it, but it was so much bigger, and even prettier.

One of my favorite moments of the weekend was the smell of the lobby the first time we entered the inn… I’d describe it as a delicate firewood-pine trees-oranges smell. It was welcoming, and comforting, and Christmassy, and I loved it. We made our way to the reception desk only to be greeted with homemade chocolate chip cookies. Let just say the MLI reception desk kind of does it all… and also kind of ruined the reception desk of all of our future travel destinations that won’t greet me with cookies!!! I will not share how many I ate during our stay, but I will say this… I fully took advantage of their chocolate chip cookie hospitality; and so did Logan!

We were then shown to our room. The first thing I noticed was the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows with a view on the lake and mountains. The view was simply the best, but the comfy king size bed, the pull out sofa bed for the boys, and the two leather chairs by the windows were also pretty awesome. While we were making ourselves at home, we heard a knock at the door… ‘Hello there’, as we were welcomed with a cheese tray, drinks, and some more cookies!

The first thing the boys wanted to do was to go to the pool, so Brian took them swimming while I took the opportunity to explore the inn and take some pictures. So many things and places to see, and so much beauty and history, everywhere I looked.

Here are some facts… Mirror Lake Inn is a family own business that started way back in the 1920’s. Mr. Wikoff created the Mir-a-Lac Inn and it became well known all over the States. It took an even bigger leap when the inn hosted an entire Olympic team during the 1932 Olympics. Since then, the inn has kept on getting bigger and better throughout the years. The MLI is now own by Ed and Lisa Weibrecht, whose son Andrew is a two-time Super G Olympic medalist. Andrew’s medals are shown at the reception and you can admire them for as long as you want while enjoying some cookies. MLI is known for its charm, its amazing staff and its delicious food. Here’s another fact: oh my god, the food is simply amazing!!! Every single item we ordered throughout the weekend was so delicious; but I have to say that the absolute best thing I’ve tried was the shrimp and squash gnocchi that Bry got at the Taste Bistro & Bar on Saturday night for dinner.

So, after the boys came back from the pool, we all changed and got ready for our 6:30 reservation at the four diamond restaurant, The View; and what a view it was! We were seated right by the windows overlooking the lake. Lake Placid was covered with snow when we arrived, but somehow, the lake was frozen and as clear as a mirror… I guess that’s where the name comes from! That’s actually not a fact, it’s just an observation, so don’t quote me on that; but it was truly beautiful. The lake was completely frozen, yet you could still see the sand at the bottom of it. So, back to The View. Well I’m pretty sure that all servers from The View or from all the other MLI restaurants are great, but Tess was just the best. She was so nice to us and the boys, bringing them special treats and making sure we all had a great time. Liam even asked her if he would see her the next day. Sadly he didn’t. But every time we would go close to the restaurant during the weekend, he would look out for her. He was so cute! You may or may not see this, Tess, but thank you so much for making our diner even more special. By the time we were done, Brian had one of the best salmon dish of his life, Liam probably now owns the world record for the fastest eaten spaghetti ever, while Logan was real super classy with his French fries and side of vinegar that we had brought from our last visit to McDonald’s (as the States only serve Malt Vinegar and Logan is NOT a fan of it but needs his vinegar on his fries!). As for me, well I was so full from my amazing filet mignon that I had to share a raspberry creme brulee with Brian! So good. But so glad we only ordered one dessert, because right after we were done, Tess brought us some nice chocolate truffles, mixed nuts and homemade mint chocolate. I could easily get used to that! Overall, the boys did really well (with the help of their Nintendo DS, of course), and I must say that it was one of our best meal ever.

After dinner we visited the library, my favorite room at MLI, which is located right beside the reception desk and common lounge. This room is so cozy, with oversized furniture, comfortable couches and a huge fireplace. We borrowed some games from the front desk and the boys played chess with Bry and then Chutes and Ladders with me. They also spotted an Elf on the Shelf and became obsessed with it, having to go find him every morning. It was actually a great start to our day to go visit the library; with lots of doors and windows and the sun pouring in… I could have sat there for hours to enjoy the fireplace and to relax. The library was mellow, and warm, and it really made us feel welcomed. It was a great place to spend our first night in Lake Placid. Right after playing a few board games, we decided to call it a night… well some of us did, as one of us decided to visit the Taste Bistro & Bar and listened to the live music while discovering some of their local craft beers as well as their amazing display of single malt scotch!

Next morning came way too fast for my Loggy boy, and by 6am, him and I were snuggling on the big chairs by the windows, in the little nook in our room, and played games and chatted.  Once we were all up, we went down for breakfast where we ate way too much. The mini chocolate croissants were heaven! At 11am, it was Storytelling Time at the Mirror Lake Inn. Everyone from the village was invited and I’m pretty sure they all showed up. Set in the Wikoff room, right beside a huge Christmas tree and a gorgeous fireplace, a women made us sing carols and really got us to participate. Logan loved when she sang Rudolph, his favorite Christmas song. He was so cute, and I tried to make a short video of him singing along, but as soon as he noticed me filming, he stopped! Then the owner of the Bookstore Plus came to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The man who played the Grinch was AMAZING. You should have heard his voice… move over, Jim Carey!

It was now time to visit the Lake Placid village! So we got all dressed up and made the short walk to the central part of the village. We had to stop a few times to throw some snowballs on the lake, always a hit with my boys; especially on the frozen-like-a-mirror Mirror Lake! They had so much fun watching the snowballs explode on the ice, they kept on saying ‘this one was made of flour’. We then got to see Santa arriving in style on the local firetruck. The boys wanted to wait in line to see him, but I knew we would meet him later that evening, so I said no; felt like the Grinch there! We then browsed through the boutiques, ate freshly popped popcorn, and had Starbucks. We then came back for lunch at The Cottage at MLI, a small and cozy restaurant right on the water. The decor was so different, just like a ski lodge, and I loved everything about it. Delicious food once again. We had a pulled pork sandwich and French onion chicken burger sandwich. DELISH. After that, the boys wanted to go to the pool once again, so we decided to head back to the room.

So while they went swimming, I took what I’ll call “a holiday nap”, it’s a little fancier than a regular one, just because I was on a holiday, you know! The boys came back from the pool, but Logan was so tired that he immediately fell asleep with me, while the other two played some games… Logan was up since 6am, so letting him nap at like 4:30 pm was the biggest fail of all. MLI offers a visit from Santa and his Elf to its guests; so of course I was all over that. And of course I made sure they were wearing their new matching pj’s and all. Santa was scheduled to knock on our door at 6:30, so I tried to wake up Logan just past 6, but he didn’t want any of it. He was done. But when we heard the knock, we all ran to the door, even Logan who was still kind of asleep came with us to see who it was… and it was Santa! Sleepy Logan gave him a quick hug, then went back to bed and that was it for him! So Santa and his Elf came in, Liam told him what he wanted for Christmas, while Loggy was staying still, face first into the bed. So unlike him! Oh well, we’ve tried everything, we even tried to bribe him into coming to sit on Santa, but no, he was having NONE of it! Liam loved that Santa came to our room, although he became a little shy when Santa spoke to him in English (he really tried his best to speak a little French and I’m grateful for that!), so I had to be the interpreter. Santa then did a magic trick for us and Liam was really impressed! All in all, we ended up forcing Logan into a family picture with Santa, which actually turned out to be okay, so I take that as a win!

Santa left our room at 6:45, and since we were all still pretty full from our late lunch, we decided to go out to see all the beautiful MLI and village outdoor nightly Christmas decorations. So we all got dressed up once again and went out for a pre-diner walk. Probably took 500 shots of the beautiful outdoor holiday decors. The weather was perfect, and we had the best of time, just enjoying the surroundings and ourselves. Came back to the inn at about 8:30 for diner at The Taste Bistro and once again, the food was great. The gnocchi Bry ordered were simply to die for, and it’s my new mission in life to make as delicious gnocchi’s. I’m accepting all recipes; so if you have one, please send it my way! We then went back to our room, put the boys to bed and sat in our large chairs by the windows while quietly enjoying the view one last time. What a perfect day it was… minus the “Leave-me-alone-I-don’t-want-to-look-at-him” thing with Santa!

Already Sunday; our last day in Lake Placid. Well, at least we all woke up later than usual, which was great. Snow was gently falling outside, making everything white. Even the Mirror Lake was all white, no more mirror-like-lake. But it was perfect for some more pictures! So we packed up our stuff, talked about our weekend and what we had loved the most. We had a Breakfast with Santa planned, and finally, Logan was back to himself and real happy to see him! We had a great big round table by the fireplace and the Christmas tree all by ourselves; the brunch was so good, and the French toast were just awesome! We took some more pictures with Santa, and this time everybody was smiling and happy!

After brunch we made a final tour and said goodbye to our favorite places. My boys are really emotional, and they both cried, as they didn’t want to leave, but I can’t blame them, as I didn’t want to leave either. We took one last family selfie and we were on our way to Whiteface Mountain. Such a beautiful drive to get there on a snow covered road. But once we got to the ski resort, the snow and wind were stronger than at the inn, and we were told that the gondolas were closed because of a blizzard at the top of the mountain. We had planned to do the gondola ride to the top and the bobsled ride down the track. But we were so sad when we learned about the gondolas that we just left and forgot to ask if it was still possible to see and try the bobsled Olympic track. What a mistake. We both wanted to see it, and possibly try it. I only realized once back home that we had completely forgot to ask about it while at Whiteface Mountain.

So, since the mountain was closed, well we decided to take the long way back home, which actually consisted of the fastest way home with a stop at the closest Target. Of course, cause I just love Target!

During our drive back, we talked about what we had loved the best, which were the pool, the cookies, throwing snowballs onto the frozen lake, the Christmas lights, the smell of the inn, the people we had met, the restaurants we had tried, the stunning mountains, and much more. So many memories during such a small amount of time. That’s what the Mirror Lake Inn did to us, it created memories that will last a lifetime. Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my family, traveling and having the time of our lives. And we sure did this weekend.

This wonderful weekend was put together for us by Mr. Caligiore, and from the four of us, Thank You so much for the amazing and wonderful opportunity, and for making sure we had the best of time. MLI surely knows how to make their guests feel welcome; and they do it in a way you don’t see everywhere. The staff was so nice to us, eager to help with anything, and always so friendly. When you’re there you can feel that it’s not just the one person you meet who’s nice, but that they all are, as a group, you know, like it’s just their thing! Well, that’s how we felt. Everyone was so nice to us.

So here’s my official review of the Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa: if you’re thinking about visiting Lake Placid or its surroundings, you HAVE to stay at the MLI, or at least make time to visit and eat at one of their restaurants. The Holiday Village Stroll was an amazing weekend for a Christmas fanatic like me, but this place is clearly stunning all year round.

We will be back soon, that’s for sure. I just can’t wait to visit the Mirror Lake Inn again. For next time, I am debating between bringing our skis and going up in the gondolas or bringing our swimsuits to enjoy the MLI beach and Lake Placid sun; either way, I know we will have a great time. This place is simply the best.

Thanks for the memories Mirror Lake Inn.

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