take me out to the blueberry field

With an already jam packed weekend ahead, I decided that blueberry picking was in order on this beautiful Friday morning.

We used to live on the outskirt of our city, where we literally lived 3 minutes walking-distance away from a blueberry farm. It’s called Canaan Blueberries.  About 25 minutes from Ottawa. It’s a family operated berry farm on a few acre of beautiful land.  Once you enter the fields, you feel secluded from the world.  It’s quiet, and so delicious!

When we lived there, I use to take the boys in the stroller, park them in the field, and give them berries while I did the picking.  This year, they were ready to have own basket to fill, which they both dropped on the ground at one point; hence a small meltdown, oh well, we lived.

It was such a gorgeous day for berry picking.  We filled a basket for us and one for their Papi (AKA Frank!).  It took us just a little less than an hour, but you can easily fill yours in 20 minutes, if you can avoid distractions and meltdowns!!!  We will for sure go back next week.

Once we got home, we made some blueberry muffins and LEMONADE!  Oh, yes… blueberry lemonade.  And I have the recipe for you.

What you need:

SYRUP:

1 cup blueberries (fresh is best)

1\2 cup sugar

1\2 cup water

DRINK:

3 TBS lemon juice

3 TBS blueberry syrup

1 cup sprite or 7up

ice

How to:

Place water, sugar and blueberries in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from the stove and let it cool for 5 minutes.

I made this drink by the glass, but you could easily adjust the quantities for a pitcher.

In a large glass, place ice, lemon juice, blueberry syrup and top off with sprite.  Add a lemon slice, fresh blueberries and fresh mint to garnish.  This version is non-alcoholic, but add gin and you’ve got a party!

You will have plenty of the blueberry syrup… for about 10 drinks.  Store the leftover in the fridge and you can warm it up the next morning for your toast.  You’re welcome!

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all you need is…logan

Every mom must say this once a year; every year: ‘I can’t believe my baby is now 1’, then 2, then 3…!  Well, I must have said it like a 1000 times over the last few weeks… and then, on Friday, it happened… and my baby Logan turned 5.  And just like that, it seemed like it was all over and I didn’t have babies anymore.  Hopefully, as I was about to cry, Logan told me that he’d be a baby until he’s 9.  I’ll take that Loggy!  And maybe a few more months after that if that’s okay with you!

I’ve never seen anyone being this excited about a birthday… EVER.  Not even I as a kid, and God knows how I loved my birthday celebrations!!!  Since he turned 4 he’s been wanting to be 5, just like Liam.  And for the last 40 days, first thing in the morning, he’s been sneaking into our bedroom to give us the countdown.

He didn’t ask for a specific birthday-theme.  So I tried to influence him with Cars, then Tsum Tsum, then Minions, etc.  But nothing got him excited… until a few months ago when I mentioned maybe a music birthday party!

Fun theme, but after looking through stores and online, a music party is well, meh!  Nothing for kids…  So along the way, I added my own twist to it: a Beatles music birthday party!  He was all for it… and boy did I had fun with this one!

Everything was from scratch.  After all, where can you find Beatles stuff for a 5 year old!?!  He wanted lots of colors, so it all started with a picture of the band from the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club… oh yeah, the one with the satin suits!  And then came the birthday theme title: All you need is Lo…gan!!!  Brian says it’s corny; but I think it’s clever!  I’m so proud of that one, and it made such a great poster!

We already had a turntable and some Beatles records to go with the theme.  My friend Rachel designed the poster for the cake table that I got printed at Walmart for less than 15$.  Then went to a consignment store and found some cheap women satin blouse and drape ropes to make some nice Beatles’ outfits for the boys so they would have their own satin suits.  It’s one of my favorite projects ever for sure… my sewing machine didn’t cooperate, so I glue gunned everything!  They went crazy when they putted the shirts on… brought my Fender pink guitar out as well as a kid’s microphone to take some pictures.  That’s when they both started to scream ‘Rock & Roll’!!!  I’ve never said those words in my life so no clue where this came from, but it gave me a hilarious photo-shoot!

I had some help from my friend Catherine who ran errands for me and then took our Abbey Road family picture.  We blew what seems like hundreds of balloons… wanted more, but had to stop cause my fingers had blisters.  Made a few Beatles cakes and lots of food: “I am the Eggman” devil eggs, “Yellow Submarine” twinkies, salads, sausage in a bun, beans and nachos and guac.  I found an old box full of records in the garage that Brian’s uncle Bobby (famous family musician himself) had given him years ago, and used it for decorations, and garlands and cake stands.  Spent 90 minutes making a Beatles mural in the parking lot.  Then it was finally time for Logan’s Beatles birthday party to begin!

But a few hours earlier… on Friday morning, the birthday boy was ready to rock and roll at something like 6 am when he came running in our bedroom to tell us it was his birthday!  Not sure how many times he asked when his guests were coming after that, as he was just so excited.

Finally, friends and family arrived.  He played with his cousins, gave kisses to everyone coming through the door, putted all the gifts on the birthday gifts table, had a blast in the pool, played in the backyard, and then by 6pm or so, he decided to take a nap on the couch!  He was done!  Not sure if it was all the stress and the excitement or just fatigue, but he was out.  So we all had diner without the birthday boy. Then, I woke him up for gifts opening and cake.  Poor baby, he was so lost, but also so happy that it was still his birthday!

He was so spoiled, and then thanked everyone for all the birthday presents, one by one.  He then wanted to blow his candles.  I asked him to put on his satin suit for the birthday cake picture… and he was okay with it… which secretly made me so happy!  So we all sang and cheered, and he was so happy.

Oh yeah, right before Loggy’s nap, all the kids (as well as a few grown-ups) played an intense baseball game in the backyard, with some pretty excited spectators on the deck, all with their favorite drink in their hand.  That was Brian’s favorite part of the evening.  Later, once everyone had enjoy their Beatles piece of cake, just as it started to get dark outside, I threw a few dozen glow sticks in the pool and jumped in with all the kids… a few dozen glow sticks and a million mosquitos… still, that was one of my favorite part of the evening!  It was so much fun!

Once the party was over, kids left with sweets from the Piñata while our adult guests left with some “Strawberry Jam Forever” jars, as thank you gift.  It went all too fast.  He cried when I sang ‘All you need is Logan’ in his bed.  He wanted his birthday to last forever… well, he is my son after all, and he loves a good party as much as I do!

Logan, you’re the funniest person I know.  You are an emotional roller-coaster and you are proud of it, and that’s okay, because what you love, you love it passionately, and I love this about you.  You love your brother to pieces, your family, your bunny, McQueen, French Fries with vinegar, singing, dancing, playing board games, going to school, hiding stuff everywhere that we won’t find until later, as well as giving me millions of kisses every day.  We adore you baby Loggy.  You may grow old, but as you do, please don’t ever stop being who you are.  ‘Love is all, Love is you’.

 

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camp woods-part 1

Well, it took a while for the summer to start, but now it seems like it’s flying by so quickly; with half of it already gone by.  Camp Woods is something I started 3 years ago… being at home for the summer months with the boys, I didn’t want them to get bored -or to get bored myself!!!- doing the same old things every day.  So when spring time comes I always start looking online for some fun crafts and activities to do with them; you know, things that might interest us, movies we will want to see and stuff we will have fun to do at home.  I always consider their ‘flavor of the week’, and the things they love at the moment, and then I start planning ahead for my homemade summer camp!  Every week has its own little special twist including a few fun activities and surprises!  I’m not a strict camp monitor, so we go with the flow and add or remove stuff as the weeks go by.  This year the boys are still into Disney, Mario Bros, Cars and Minions.  We will also have a Minecraft week soon -although I hate everything about Minecraft- since the boys are really into it!

So here’s a few things we did the last few weeks:

-went for ice cream cone on Monday morning

-made popsicles sticks painted with Cars characters

-baked Minions cookies, then sneaked them into the theater to watch the movie

-made Minions sundaes

-had a last minute sleep over with our cousins

-built Cars Land in my kitchen and dining room, using basically everything we own

-made mini-pizza and had a pic-nic in our basement when it rained

-watch way to many movies (cause it just keeps on raining)

-made Mickey Mouse shaped avocado and egg sandwiches (all sandwiches should be eaten like that)

-built outside forts

-made some Mickey hats

-went to the cottage for paddle board and sea-doo

-made a Mickey Mouse ice cream cone (and nope, I didn’t share that one with the boys… made one and ate it while they were playing downstairs!!!)

-played at the park

-took the bouncer out of the garage every week to play outside with our neighbors

-tried to learn swimming with swimmers

-and much much more

Honestly, this year is a little bit harder… they aren’t as excited about all of this like they were before.  And we find ourselves with -probably- the same problem other parents face as well: the iPad thing.  Well, electronics in general in our case, with the iPad being the worst one, or their favorite one.  We don’t have cable or satellite so they don’t asked for TV much; but every day is a struggle to keep them away from the iPad.  So we had to set limits that we try to respect, but still, it seems like all they want to do as soon as they have a minute without anything planned is to play on the DS, or iPad, or Wii.  So that’s why I got to start planning my summer activities in the spring to keep them entertained!!!

So two weeks ago, we left the boys with my mom and then had a night out in Montreal.  We had bought tickets a while ago to go see Cirque du Soleil.  And it was awesome!!!  We can’t wait to bring the boys to see one, probably this one later this summer!  After the show we took a stroll on the docks of the Vieux Port and it was the best.  It had been a while since we’ve been there, and it was so nice.  With so many activities for both adults and kids.  As always, there were nice patios, but also zip lines, and shows and some shopping on a boardwalk.  For the kids, there was a bouncy pirate castle land, some ropes courses (not for kids, but for teens, or close-to-be teens), IMAX and so much more.  We plan to visit with my sister-in-law later this summer.  It was nice to be out just the two of us; we need to make more time for date nights like that.  And Cirque du Soleil is always a winner for us as we both love it so much.

So this week is all about Logan.  Baby Loggy is turning 5 on Friday and I want to savor and bottle up his last days of being 4.  He’s so excited about his ‘music’ birthday, it’s all he talks about, he doesn’t even realise how distressed I am that my baby is turning 5.  I will share some pictures of his birthday party next week… but let’s just say that I made some of the most fun and hilarious kids Beatles costumes ever!  I’m sure birthday number five will also be one to remember!

With 4 weeks left before going back to work, I want to spend more one on one time with the boys, I want to put the electronics aside a little and plan together what we want to do!  Let me know what are your summer plans, the fun things your family do, and your tricks for getting them off the freakin iPad!!!

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homemade beaver tails, eh?

Beaver Tails… it doesn’t get more Canadian than this!  If you like them as much as I do, well I’ve got you covered.  I’ve made my first batch over Canada Day weekend and we’ve been craving them ever since.  Honestly, it’s kind of easy to do, you just need a bit of time to do it.  Topping possibilities are endless… and that’s really exciting!  So take some time this weekend and try them!

What you need:

1\2 cup warm water

2 packs of active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup warm milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

1\2 cup sugar

2 cups whole wheat flour

3 cups regular flour

1\3 cup vegetable oil

vegetable oil for frying

How to:

I always use my Kitchen Aid mixer with the hook attachment when making dough.  In the mixing bowl, add water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Let rest for a few minutes, until foamy.  Pour in the milk, sugar, vanilla, eggs, oil and salt.  Mix well with the hook.  Add in batches, the flour.  Mix until nothing sticks to the side of the bowl.

Use another bowl and cover with a bit an oil.  Take the dough from the mixer, knead a minute on a floured surface, then place in the oiled bowl. (I always preheat my oven at 175 and then turn it off and place the dough in, with a damp cloth on top).  Let rise until it doubled in size, between 45 minutes to an hour.

On a floured surface again, knead the dough gently and then roll it out in a rectangle with a rolling pin.  With a pizza cutter, slice the dough in small rectangle about the size of your hand.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cover while you prepare the rest.

Heat oil in a large pot.  You should have 4-5 inches of oil in the bottom of your pan.  One piece of dough at the time, stretch and shape in an oval or like a Beaver Tail.  Gently place in hot oil and fry until golden on both side, turning once.  Take it out, place it on a paper towel and repeat with all the dough.

I suggest doing this recipe with an helper (adult).  Do not let the kids play around you while you do this.  They will have plenty of time to have fun while topping their Beaver Tails later on!  As for my toppings… well I have a thing for Nutella, so obviously mine was chocolate with powdered sugar.  The boys had the classic cinnamon sugar (brush melted butter and mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with 1 cup of sugar).  Dip the buttered tail in the sugar and voila!  I’d say that maple butter, or jam or Dulce de Leche from Chocolats Favoris would also be pretty delicious.

You could easily divide this recipe.  It makes around 20 pieces of dough depending on the size of your Beaver Tails.  You can store them, without toppings, in an airtight container for a few days on the counter.

This is a great recipe for a party, where you could have a cute topping bar and where everyone could customize their own Beaver Tail!

So try this, it’s a winner!  Let me know about your favorite toppings, as I’d like to try them all!  Enjoy!

 

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beautiful maison lavande

Last year, a friend of mine posted a picture of herself and her mom in the middle of a lavender field.  It was gorgeous, and as soon as I saw that picture I knew I had to visit that place.  I had never heard of it before.  So I looked it up, only to find out that it was about 45 minutes away from my mom’s place.  It is called Maison Lavande.  While I was looking at their website, I saw so many incredibly gorgeous photos; and I couldn’t wait to go.  But summer weekends being so busy, it’s not easy to find time for a full Saturday for some ‘me’ time.

So it took almost a year, but finally, on Friday, with nothing planned for the Saturday, I called my friend Cath, told her where I wanted to go… and right away she was on-board and coming with me!  So we made plans, called Maison Lavande and booked us massages for the next day!

So on Saturday morning, with my big girl camera in my hand, I was ready to take some amazing shots!  To say I was ready is an understatement.  The beauty of the fields simply took my breath away.  It was calm, and pure, and serene, and it kind of smelled like heaven.  For a girl who loves lavender and use it almost every day, it was just perfect.  I fell in love.  Every little detail had been thought of: chairs in the fields, quiet areas, and cute little bistro with awesome food.  I could have sat there for the entire day, just doing nothing, just being present while surrounded with purple everything.

We got there early, there were not to many visitors yet and it felt like we had the fields for ourselves.  We started to take pictures while enjoying the beautiful scenery.  We met a young man, Alec, who right away made us feel welcomed.  We had missed the first tour, so he offered to give us a private tour.  Well, thanks a lot Alec!  He only had been working at Maison Lavande for a month, but he was so great and so helpful, especially when it was time to get some pictures of the both of us!  He showed us around, answered all of our questions and gave us tips on lavender.  Who knew lavender could be used to repel lice!  Thanks for the tip Alec… but hopefully a tip I’ll never have to use in my home!  He said the founders and their families were all working there.  It was built by family for family.  And it’s really the feeling you get when you’re there.  You feel like you know them and share their love for the place and for lavender.  If you decide to check it out, I suggest you seek out Alec, he’s the best!

So after the tour, we picked up our lunches and headed to the field to eat in some big purple Adirondack chairs.  We had ham and brie sandwiches with two salads.  We also had drinks included with our massage deal: ‘Moût de pommes pétillant à la Lavande’.  Not gonna translate this one, but it was simply to die for.  Bubbly, fresh, delicious with a subtle hint of lavender.  It was so good that I decided to buy some more to bring back home.  I highly recommend you to do the same!

After lunch we headed to the quiet area and waited for our massages.  WAIT FOR IT.  Our tree house massages!  Yep, you’ve read it right… Maison Lavande is now offering massages in a 40 foot high tree house surrounded by lavender fields.  How awesome is that!!!

So we got up in the tree house, got ready on the massage table and then the massage therapist opened up the curtains.  From my table, all I could see was the lavender fields.  It was one of the best massage experience ever.  The breeze on my back, the silence except for the sounds of nature, and of course, the smell.  I felt relaxed right away.  It felt sooo good!  All I could think of was like “OMG, this is the most awesome thing I’ve done in a really long time”.  And then… SLAP!!!  In an instant, weather changed, like drastically!  The curtains started to fly and hit me.  Huge winds blowing into the tree house, and then the storm… which seemed like the mother of all storms from up there!  It was so bad.  The therapist was trying so hard to secure the drapes but with all the wind it was impossible.  I was lying naked on the table, laughing so hard about all of it… and then the water started to leak from the roof down on my neck!  Let’s just say I got up really fast as it was really cold.  We both held down the drapes together, clad in my mini-robe, while trying to take a picture of the storm!  I just kept on laughing.  That poor girl, she felt so bad, but it was clearly not her fault.  Let’s just say that mother nature is kicking my butt this year… and this time it was my naked butt while in a 40 foot tree house… yeah, there’s a first for everything!

So once the storm had passed, we placed the table in between the roofs to avoid the cold water from dropping down my back and I tried to relax for the last 15 minutes of my massage.  One of the staff was waiting for us in a golf cart to bring us back to the main house.  Even with the rain, I can say that this was one of the best experience ever.  I will be going back yearly for a tree house massage at Maison Lavande… but next time, I will make sure there’s no storm in the forecast!

After our massages, we weren’t ready to leave yet, so we fed the chickens, walked on a pathway in the forest and then had lavender frozen yogurt. Delish!  We stopped in the boutiques to stock up on lavender products: cookies, olive oil, eye lavender pillow, essential oil and a lavender lemonade.  This place is just awesome.  I will be visiting Maison Lavande again, and you should too.  If you want to go this year, I would suggest you hurry, as the beautiful flowers are in bloom up until the beginning of August.  Book a tree house massage, try the delicious drinks, bring your own picnic or eat from the bistro, get some of their great products… and of course, take hundreds of beautiful pictures and savour the unique taste of lavender frozen yogurt.  It’s so worth it!

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canada day and a quick getaway

So last weekend was Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations across the nation.  We were not planning on going downtown Ottawa for all the big festivities, but I was very excited and really looking forward to our own celebrations, and BBQ’s, and friends, and local fireworks and Canada Day cake… but by Saturday afternoon, most of our plans had fell through, mainly due the crappy weather, so I was just miserable, at home, with nothing to do on this long weekend.  So I decided to take a nap.  Even then, I was so bored I couldn’t even fall asleep.  So I sent a text message to Brian, who was playing Mario Kart with the boys downstairs, asking him if we could go somewhere; like anywhere!!!

Of course, I knew he wouldn’t say no to that!

So I sent him the text at 3:30 pm… by 3:45 we had agreed on a destination, and by 4:00 we were out the door, and on our way to the USA on Canada Day!  Well, that doesn’t sound too much patriotic, but I got to say that we did look at some destination in Canada first; Brian wanted to go see his beloved Red Sox in Toronto, but it just didn’t work out.

I love Canada!  I truly love everything there is to love about our awesome and unique country, and I am so proud to be Canadian, but seriously, if there’s one thing the American got right is that they didn’t let Target go bankrupt!!!  So while Brian was booking the hotel online, I was figuring out the shortest route to get to my beloved Target!

We left at around 4pm and didn’t stopped until we made it to Watertown’s Target.  I promise Brian before the trip I’d be good and reasonable and wouldn’t spend too much as this was last minute and clearly not planned in our summer budget!  Well I kept that promise for about two hours.  Still can’t believe that store didn’t worked out in Canada.  Obviously not because of me, as I visited the Orleans store at least once a week while it was open!  Even the boys were excited to see the giant red balls outside.  So within one hour in the store I had already found so many things I didn’t even know I absolutely needed!  It felt so good, and I was so happy, with my Starbuck in one hand and a red shopping cart in the other.

We then got back on the road.  Brian had book a nice hotel in an awesome neighborhood of Syracuse, NY.  We stayed at the Marriott in Armory Square; surrounded by old buildings, beautiful flowers lining streets and string lights everywhere.  We loved it as soon as we saw the location of the hotel.  We arrived shortly before 9, check ourselves in, unpacked and then headed down to the lobby for some drinks and snacks while waiting for my mom and Frank.  They too, had decided to join us on our crazy last minute getaway.

I don’t know a lot about Syracuse, but I’m pretty sure we had the best location in town.  At 10 pm, we ventured out to find a place to eat.  Right by the hotel there was a great place, Pastabilities, only to find out that the kitchen had just closed minutes ago.  It’s definitely on the list for our next trip.  So Brian then walked into a cute little alley and found a place called Modern Malt.  He came back to get us, and as soon as I walked in, I was in love with the place.  Retro style Diner with a pretty glass dessert display, a colorful aqua and orange decor and some delicious looking chocolate milkshakes on the menu!  We shared a fig jam and caramelized onion burger on a brioche, and it was sooo good!!!   Wish we would have had more time in Syracuse in order to go back for breakfast.  They had some waffles-with-everything meal and it looked just delish!  I honestly would have tasted everything on the menu.

Sunday morning was slow and relax.  We enjoyed breakfast in the lobby while planning out our day.  We drove to a few stores my mom wanted to go to and then it was Destiny shopping!  Spent a few hours browsing the stores.  Found a few things.  Then the boys did a rope course that they loved.  Unfortunately, they were just a few inches shy of making it to the big course.  Next time.  We shared some awesome nachos at Margaritaville for lunch.  Then played arcade games where Liam won the roulette tickets jackpot and where Brian wanted to spend the rest of the day!  By late afternoon we were all tired and decided to head back to our rooms for a nap and swimming.  Swimming for Brian and the boys, and yep, a nap for me!  Not sure what it is about hotel pools, but they’re always the best according to my boys.  They ended up meeting some other kids, and their mom had floating balls that they were all throwing in the pool, and they raced, and it was just so much fun apparently… oh well, nothing beats a nap in a comfy hotel bed!!!

For diner, of course we had to go to The Cheesecake Factory.  It was, as usual, so good!!!  And bonus, I ate my cheesecake for breakfast the next morning!

Next day came by way too quickly and it was already the end of our short and unplanned but so much fun summer vacation.  So we packed our stuff, got in the car and started our journey back.  We made another stop at Target (upon my kids request, I swear), then Cracker Barrel and then home.

I love these last minute getaway road trips.  Luckily, I have people who love crazy ideas and always want to tag along.  We’re all sad that it went by so quick.  But we had a lot of fun spending time together, and I’m sure it won’t be too long before we go back!

For now, at least, it seems like we brought back the sun with us; so let’s enjoy our backyard pool a little and let’s hope summer is here for good!!!

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