disney’s hollywood studios


So we just came back from our March-break Disney trip, and since I got way too much things to say, too many pictures to show, and way too much excitement for only one blog post, I’ve decided to do multiple ones, like one for each themed park! For those of you who won’t have the patience to read all of the posts, at least look at the pictures I’m going to share, as I’m sure you’ll see the magic through them all; and if I had to summarize our trip, I guess I could do it with something like ‘’We had, as expected, such a magical time, as we rode our favorite rides, Dumbo, Star Wars, It’s a small world, Peter Pan, Nemo and Toy’s Mania, we ate way too many Mickey Bars and too much popcorn, screamed from the top of our lungs in Tower of Terror, Slinky Dog and Expedition Everest, watched some beautiful parades, shows and fireworks, and even had the chance to hug and kiss Mickey and Minnie dressed in their special 90th Birthday outfit’’, but there’s so much more to it. So for everyone who wants to hear all about it, here’s the part 1 of the longer version of our Magical 2019 Disney World family trip.

So this all started a long long time ago, like probably 35 years ago, when, as a child, I kind of developed a slight obsession with everything Disney. Over the years, this slight obsession became a little more obvious, and now that my boys share this passion with me, I know I can go all out at any time and I’ll always have these two smiling faces beside me, willing to follow me, waiting to see what’s next. Prepping for this trip with them two has been the most pleasant time, and being able to live up to everyone’s expectation was the cherry on top of a fabulous week in Florida.

We left for the airport just before 3am on Friday morning, and beside Liam and Logan, I don’t think anyone else got much sleep! The excitement was at an all-time high, with the messages coming in one after the other in our Disney chat, from like midnight until it was time to leave. We took 3 cars to the airport, arrived early as planned, but then spent way too much time at security, only to board the plane with not even time to grab a coffee. The flight was great, as we were all sitting together, the 12 of us! Yep, 12 of us, which is a small crew compared to our group of 18 from about 5 years ago. We made it to Orlando, got our mega van and SUV we had rented, and then drove away with the windows down while enjoying the warm Florida weather. We left home at about minus 26 Celsius and within a few hours we were enjoying a sunny day and 26 degrees! I’ll take that at any time!

We had a little Target situation to begin with, as I drove our rented SUV to one store while Brian drove the van to another one, about 25 minutes apart… I just want to confirm that I was at the one we had previously agreed on! (NO, I wasn’t!!!). So we all met and did the grocery (at MY Target) and then found our beautiful house in a nice and quiet neighbourhood. Within minutes the rooms had all been figured out and the kids had all jumped in the backyard in-ground pool! What a long day it had been, so while everyone else was swimming, I decided to take a short nap before it was time to head out to the Outback Steakhouse, my father-in-law’s new favorite restaurant.

Although I hadn’t slept much the previous 2 days, I could hardly sleep as I was way too excited to visit Hollywood Studios in the morning. We rushed to the gate and then ran to the new Toy Story Land to ride the Slinky Dog Dash roller-coaster. What a thrill it was!!! I loved it. I was lead to believe that it was a kid’s roller-coaster, but no, it wasn’t… well, let’s just say that it was not one for mine! And maybe too intense for some of the adults as well. My Mom and Brian’s aunt Lulu still hadn’t recovered from the ride hours later while Liam and Logan screamed and cried and hated it the entire way. I actually have a pretty memorable video of Liam from the entire ride that proves it. They hated it but then they both really wanted the Slinky Dog toy, they’re so hard to follow sometimes!

The older kids and some of the adults had some fast-passes for Aerosmith’s Rock N Roller Coaster, so we took a break from the heat and watched the Frozen sing along while they went for their ride. And even though we were all beyond tired of the snow back home, we all got teary eyes when it started to snow at the very end. That’s what the magic of Disney does to you!

After a few more rides, we snacked on our first Mickey Bars and Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches, bought the Toy Story refillable alien popcorn bucket and had some nachos. Nachos and popcorn are meals, right? Well they definitely were that week.

We then walked back to Toy Story Land for Toy Story Mania! My fav and Liam’s fav at that park for sure! This ride is EVERYTHING! Fun, fast, cute and competitive. Poor Logan, as he got his butt kicked. Nobody’s taking me down! We would have ridden this ride 100 times if they had let us… but man the waiting lines were just brutal. That’s what March Break was for us! Long lines, but the best of times.

Finally, one I am not too proud of, and one I probably lost 2 years of my life riding, Tower of Terror. I have no recollection of the moment prior, but all I can think of is that they either tricked me or forced me into it, cause I remember myself saying ‘’no way, I’m not stupid, I’m not doing it’’, but then I was all buckled up in the ride screaming ‘’WTF!!!’’. So they say that a picture is worth a thousand words… well I look at this one, and all it tells me is that this was my first and last time in that ride. And that picture is actually all I can remember from the ride cause I literally kept my eyes shut the entire time!

It was still early in the day, it was sunny and really hot outside, so we decided to go back to the house for a quick swim and nap and then come back to get diner at the park and catch the Fantasmic show. I just love that show. I could watch it over and over. It’s simply one of the best and most beautiful show ever. We were sitting up close, so we got a little wet, which actually minimized the appearance of tears as I was taking it all in, realizing that our first day was almost over and that this week was going to fly by. To be continued…

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15 favorite things to pack for a trip

Are you heading out on vacation for March Break? Well I know I am! I’m sooo ready for our vacation, it’s not even funny anymore. I swear, a week is way worse than a year! We’ve been planning this Disney trip for a long time, I’ve been looking ahead to this for months and months, and it’s now just around the corner and I simply can’t wait any longer…

The boys have been trying every pair of shorts they own… an unfortunately, they outgrew most of them since last summer; and trying to buy a new summer wardrobe during winter is not that simple. So the last few weeks it’s been mostly shopping, shopping and shopping!

One of my favorite thing about going on a trip is the prepping! You know, making sure we have everything, that we’re not forgetting anything, and that we have things organized in a way that our trip will be even more enjoyable. So I’ve rounded up my 15 favorite things to pack up in my suitcase when we’re going on vacation. Whether it’s Disney, a trip to the beach or a weekend getaway, these items will keep you organized, ready for any situations and so damn proud of yourself to have everything you need for that awesome trip.

Liam wearing his cooling towel; he wouldn’t take it off!

Let’s get started!

1-Ziplocs: Yes, I’m starting my list with Ziplocs. I actually rarely leave the house without one in my purse, so, bringing a box with me during a vacation is a must. I pack up all my skin-care product, tooth paste, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, etc. into large Ziplocs, so if something leaks, then I’m covered. The worst thing I could ever imagine when opening up my suitcase would be a major spill on my favorite outfits. I reuse my large Ziplocs every trip, leaving them in my suitcase until our next getaway. The large ones are the best, you can keep some in your backpack and use them for dirty clothes, diapers, or even to keep your fancy camera dry. They’re also great for carrying snacks with you or storing them while you’re on a ride. Or to bring back some Funnel Cake back to the hotel room! I find we waste less food this way when we’re in the parks or at the beach. Ziplocs are ESSENTIAL on vacation. Now you know it!

2-Phone charger: You always need backup. Phones are dying so quickly now and you don’t want to miss out on an important call, or the chance to capture the perfect sunset, or fireworks, or a Mickey Mouse hug! Buy a portable charger, keep it fully charge in your bag and no moments will be missed.

3-Fancy camera: I know you’ve got one, so bring it, that’s why you bought it. It’s sooo easy to just use our phones but honestly, there is a difference. If you’re traveling with a group, maybe alternate the person in charge of taking pictures every day, or just let someone else take the pictures once in a while, at least you’ll be in a few of them!

A stroller ride in the Boston Common.

4-Stroller: So we’re on the verge of leaving for Orlando with our 8 and 6 years old and we ARE bringing 2 strollers. Kids are kids and travelling is hard. A meltdown and so easily avoided if they don’t have to walk when they are tired or too hot. We did California and Vegas with like 45 degrees Celsius heat about 2 years ago and we didn’t get ONE complaint. If you’re doing a theme park, wrap a ribbon or scarf to easily spot your ride. You can even leave it near a ride and pick it up later when you need it. Renting a stroller is expensive, so bring yours or borrow one, because you will need it. Also, you get from point A to B much faster when you’re not waiting for their little legs to catch up!

5-Cooling towel: Going somewhere hot? Well then this is a must! Wet the towel, ring out the water and feel the cooling effect immediately. Great for everyone but especially kids. The coolness will sooth and refresh them or yourself! You may buy these are the pharmacy or Amazon.

6-Shoe Rack: So this one I stole from my friend Vero. You know these plastic shoe racks from the Dollar Store? Buy one, place on the back of the bathroom door in your hotel and place all your personal products. Hair brushes, lotion, toothpaste and brush, your jewelry, etc. The counters are never big enough for all the stuff you bring, so this way, all your stuff is at the same place and in order. I don’t like when housekeeping touches my stuff when cleaning, so this way, she doesn’t have too. Leave in your suitcase once you’re done until your next adventure!

7-Hand sanitizer: OMG this one hurt just writing about it! The worst thing about going to a trip to Disney? The touching of EVERYTHING! Ropes, hands, fences, and the oh-shit bar in the rides… YARK!!! I probably go through a small bottle of Thieves hand sanitizer a day. My boys are already well trained in the hand washing department but a day in the park is no normal day. I can already hear the germs! So yea, buy the sanitizer and shower everyone with it every 20 minutes!

8-Muslin blanket: I don’t care how old your kids are, if they’re tired or irritated, then need a blanket. I love the Aden & Anais muslin blanket. Light and airy, perfect for warm days and cooler night. Can be used to shield the sun at the beach or during nap in the stroller. If nobody wants it, used it as a cover for your bum while you’re waiting for the parade! Roll it up in the bottom of your backpack and it will be there just in case.

9-Water bottles: Don’t bring your fancy one. You’ll be too sad if you forget it somewhere. A plastic one that can be clipped to the backpack or the stroller is all you need. Fill half of it with water the night before and freeze, then fill the rest in the morning and you’ll have cold water throughout the day. One of the best way to make sure you have the best time on your vacation is by staying hydrated. It’s so easy to forget to drink enough water when you’re busy. I always bring a bottle of Pedialyte for the boys to drink in the morning before we start the day. Keeps them refreshed and at least I know that whatever they drink and eat during the day, they have a base that keeps them well hydrated. I should probably do the same!

10-Sharpie: Yep, a sharpie. It’s totally needed for collecting the autograph of your favorite Disney characters! Can also be used in so many other useful occasions.

11-Sunscreen: Wear it, every day, whether you are skiing or relaxing at the beach. Buy it before you leave, sunscreen at your resort or at the theme parks will be double the price!

12-Poncho: Buy a few ponchos at the Dollar Store and store them in the backpack. You’ll hope you won’t have to use them but you’ll be glad you brought some if it does! And paying 10$ US for a poncho is no fun. We used ours for the Kali River Rapids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Was I ever glad I was wearing mine!!! Unfortunately, a few from our gang were not so lucky! Once you’re done with your ride or once the sun is back, you fold them back up and place them in one of your large Ziplocs you brought.

Logan; always up for a snack!

13-Snacks: You want to keep your kids happy? Keep them full with treats!!! Kidding. With healthy snacks of course. What’s worse than having to deal with a meltdown because someone is hungry? Probably dealing with ME when I’m hungry!!! Bring dry snacks and fruits for when waiting in lines or just walking around. Plus, you can’t ONLY eat junk, so having a few veggies or fruits handy is perfect for the rumbling tummies.

14-Games: What to do for long flights, long waiting lines or long stretches of time when you need the kids to be entertained? GAMES. Uno, Sushi Go and Bingo are just a few of our favorites. Bring out a card games at the restaurant while you’re waiting for your pizza or while waiting to board the plane. Cross-words, books and tablets are great for quiet time, so load up new games on the iPad and buy a few books at the Dollar Store. I’ve found some fun and free Disney themed bingo cards on Pinterest and printed them. We’ll be taking these out and playing while waiting in line. Bring out the sharpies to cross off the ones you get. No mess, no tiny pieces and a Mickey Bar for the winner!

15- Anti Chafe Balm: This last one is not super glamorous but it works and it’s a MUST! I bought mine at the running store and I’ve been using it when it’s super-hot outside or when I know I’ll be walking during a long period of time. Spread a layer between your thighs and underneath your arms and you’ll see. I’m telling you, this will make your Disney adventure truly MAGICAL!

So there you have it, my list of things you absolutely must bring on your next trip! Do you plan on getting away soon? I hope you do. But if you don’t, no worries, just start thinking about what could be next, as this is almost as excited as doing it. I’m always on the lookout for our next adventure. It’s sooo much fun to decide where to go next, to plan ahead, to travel, to explore new places and see new things. Well, planning is all done here, next will be to wake up at 3 am in a few days and go catch our flight. Happy March Break my friends!

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fun, easy and quick ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away and I’ve got a few quick and easy ideas to celebrate your love ones!

This year, V-Day falls on a Thursday, so who’s got time for super fancy breakfast before school or 5 course meals after work? I’ve pulled up a few ideas for you. Perfect to spread the love in just a few minutes!

1- Grab a few pieces of coloured paper and leave some heart shaped love notes throughout the house or at work. It takes a few moments and can brighten up anyone’s day. Your husband, your kids, your coworkers and your Galantines!

2- My boys go crazy for fun and festive breakfast, but I ain’t gonna wake up at 5am to bake some waffles or anything like that. You know what? Buy the grocery store kind and warm them up in the toaster. Served with warmed up Nutella or maple syrup and some fresh strawberries. Why not add some strait from the bottle whipped cream. I’m telling you, it will take less than 5 minutes and you’ll have a love-ly breakfast they’ll definitely enjoy!

3- For lunch, prepare some heart shaped cheese quesadilla the night before and pack it up in the kid’s lunch box. It will be another fun and cute reminder of this special day. Guess what, I might just make myself one too!

4- Last year, we made a super fun and quick snack right after school. Store bought wafers cookies, we melted chocolate and dipped them in it. We then sprinkled some sprinkles! Done in 5, and delicious until the last crumb!

5- Lots of restaurants offer some delivery special for VDAY. So order up a heart shaped pizza for the kids. Easy, fast, with little to none clean-up after diner. Put them to bed early and enjoy a chick flick movie at home with your husband. Babysitters are difficult to find on Valentine’s Day, so reserve one for the weekend and stay home on the 14.

6- In the same easy mind frame, if you’re not into heart shaped pizza, just wait until the kids are in bed, take out the fondue set, open up a box of cheese fondue from the grocery store and voilà! It’s actually our favorite date-night at-home-diner. Baguette, pears, pecans, olives and some salami. You’ll be ready to eat within minutes and again, almost no clean-up!

7- Make some home-made sugar body scrub for your Galentines, mom or daughters. One cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of coconut oil, 5-10 drops of Young Living essential oil (Peppermint and Grapefruit are amazing) and a few drop of pink food colouring. Mix it up, split between small mason jar and write a little note. Super easy and fast. And great for the skin.

No matter what you do, being together is the only thing that matters. Whether you are meeting some girlfriends for drinks, skating on the canal, going out for diner, ordering heart shaped pizza, watching a movie at home, or looking at all the Valentine’s the kids brought back from school; Love is love, and it’s all you need! Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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white chicken chili

Now that we’ve been dealing with what seems to be like a week long winter storm, my first recipe of 2019 had to be a comfy one. The cold is really getting to me, and all I want to do is stay inside and eat warm and comfort food.

After eating way too much during the holidays, I’ve been trying to be a little more health conscious lately. So when I decided to try a new slow cooker white chili recipe, I had that in the back of my mind, and I ended up with an healthy and delicious meal! Easy, cheap and full of flavour. All you need is a few ingredients that you probably already have, plus a slow cooker. If you don’t have one, borrow one from your mom, I know she has one!

Perfect for dealing with this crazy cold weather or after coming back inside from a nice snowshoeing hike. That’s what I did and it was the best bowl of white chili I ever had!

Make this recipe this week, you won’t regret it! Or for watching the Patriots win next weekend!

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happee birthdae

Yesterday was one of the most magical days ever.

I’d like to start by saying that I do know this one was a little over the top, and that I ended up spending probably too much time organizing it; but this is the type of things that makes Liam and I truly happy, and seeing how joyful he was yesterday, I am so happy I did it just the way I did. We created this party together, from picking the cakes, the decorations, the candy, the food and designing it all. It probably took me over 50 hours to make it all happen, but every minute was worth the happiness in Liam’s eyes when everything was taking shape.

You already know our profound love for Harry Potter, right? If you don’t, you’ll know about it in a few minutes! Sometime last summer, after watching the 3th Harry Potter movie one more time (his favorite movie), Liam came to me and officially declared that his 8th birthday would be all about magic and HP. So I immediately jumped in with both feet, being on the lookout for stuff for the party ever since. I found many decorations after Halloween with everything being on clearance, while also scoring some free stuff on Marketplace and Kijiji in the last few weeks. Oh, and we also found many things at our place, you know, stuff lying around the basement or buried in boxes we actually had forgotten about.

Just after Christmas, we took all the decorations away and started putting HP stuff EVERYWHERE. This party was probably the biggest one I’ve ever organized, with Logan’s Peter Pan 2nd birthday coming in at a close second. I’ve been dreaming about this party for months. Finally, yesterday, it was time, and it was just like I had imagined it.

Everything was covered, from the trunk and spell books on the porch, to the flying acceptance letters emerging from the fireplace, to the Owlery (a store where you can adopt a stuff owl to bring home) and the Honeydukes confectionary store, to the talking painting staircase, with the HP soundtrack blazing through the house, it was just like the real thing. Once you were done with the first room, next was the Great Hall, which you could only access by storming through the Platform 9 3/4 brick wall, where you’d find floating candles, a sorting hat cake, more candy and chocolates, twinkling lights, House colours banner, an handmaid giant map of Hogwarts ground, chocolate cake, vanilla cake and of course, a Butterbeer cake that brought dessert to the next level!

We had wands for our friends, we ate some chocolate frogs and chocolate Snitches; played Owl tag, took some Instax pictures and we feasted until we could pass out! All signs of a perfect birthday. Liam loved every second of it. For a rare occasion he actually enjoyed getting all the attention. He was so excited to show our own version of the Wizarding World to his friends and family. He was spoiled by everyone, as always. We are so lucky to have the best family and friends who loves our babies just the way they do.

This party will definitely go down in history as one of the most magical party I’ve ever thrown! It was so much fun to bring this thing to life and to celebrate our boy. We are the lucky ones to have you in our lives. Liam, you are the chosen one, just like Harry.

Hope this year will be full of health, fun filled days, new adventures, and so much love. I know you want to be a Griffindor, just like Harry, but you are so much more. You have the intelligence of a Ravenclaw; the dedication of an Hufflepuff; the ambitious of a Slytherin; and you can be BRAVE just like a true Gryffindor. And I love you just the way you are.

Today, on your actual birthday, all you wanted to do was to watch some YouTube videos, go skating and eat spaghetti for dinner. It was simple and it was a great day. I love you baby boy. Eight years old, not so baby anymore, but still, and always, my baby.  

Happee Birthdae Liam! We love you so much. ALWAYS.


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holidays and everything in between

So are you out of your food coma yet? Have you taken all your decorations down? Does your house suddenly feels empty? Are you still in that daze where you don’t even know what day it is? Yep, that’s all signs of the end of another great holiday season.

We’ve had sooo many parties, so many dinners, so much time spent on the roads, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Just a few hours after I was officially on holidays, we had a cousins family reunion diner. My younger cousin now lives in Lake Louise and was back home for Christmas, so he got most of us to show up for a rare and fun family reunion. I don’t think I had seen him in like over 5 years. It was great catching up with him, meeting his girlfriend Kimmy, seeing everyone, as well as having the boys spending times with their second cousins from the Lamoureux family.

Then, off course, we had to hit the malls on December 22nd, running around like crazy people, just for fun, on what was probably the busiest Saturday morning of the year. I had made care packages for homeless people and got to deliver them. So hard to witness the situation in which they are, and although it wasn’t much, I could clearly see their gratitude. It does put everything in perspective. Next year, the boys will come along. They do their parts, a few times a year, I get them to select some of the toys they no longer use and we donate them, but I want them to do more. We all should. Then, later that night, we had dinner with my sister-in-law’s family at our place.

Sunday was lazy, prepping for Christmas, wrapping the leftover gifts and having way to many lattes while listening to Christmas vinyl records. Then, finally, it was Christmas Eve, and as usual, Brian took the boys to work in the morning and came back just in time for a much needed Christmas Eve nap! One of the best tradition EVER! We then drove 45 minutes to my mother-in-law’s for the most delicious Christmas fondue dinner of the year. Then, around 10pm, we headed to Brian’s dad for the Woodbury family’s ‘Réveillon’. We had a visit from Santa, live music and dancing from Brian’s aunt Lulu and uncle Bobby, then some more food and overall a lot of fun! We called it a night at 2am, drove back home and got to sleep only for a few hours before we got woken up by the boys, telling us Santa had come to our place during the night.

The boys were so excited to open their Santa’s gift, so we had a hard time finishing opening the other presents as they only wanted to play with it! Christmas morning should last forever. It’s definitely my favorite part of Christmas. The excitement, the anticipation and the hope. I wish I could bottle it up somehow. Hopefully they’ll believe in all the Christmas magic for many more years. I believed in it until I was 12, so if I’m lucky, I may get a few more years of this. I hope so.

My mom and Frank came for brunch and then the rest of our family arrived for Christmas dinner. We played some hilarious games, some less flattering than others, like how many marshmallow can you fit in your mouth! You should try it out. And let me know if you can beat 12!

The 26 was spent in our pj’s, building Legos and eating leftovers. There was the prettiest snowfall in the afternoon so we all bundled up and went for a walk. It was magical. I love lazy days like this, where we have no agendas, no places to be, and not having to dress up!

The rest of the week was spend watching movies, trying to find some boxing week sales, seeing friends and family and trying to sleep in. We also brought Liam to play his first Escape game in Montreal, an Harry Potter inspired one! He loved it! On NYE we got together with our friends and went to the Fairmont Chateau Montebello for an afternoon sleigh ride. We got lucky with the weather, not too cold, not too windy, it was simply perfect. I just love myself some sleigh rides, I find they’re the ultimate Holiday season activity. There’s something about the horses, the carriage and the sleigh bells; it gives me all the feels.

Fairmont Chateau Montebello

On the 1st, we got a brunch at my mom’s, then turkey dinner at Lulu’s, then on the 2nd it was another relaxing day where I went to Starbucks and then shopping while Brian and the boys spent the full day playing their new Nintendo Switch game.

And now, with just a few hours left to our holidays, we’re just trying to hang on and relax some more before it’s back to school. It was a great Holiday Season, with a few days packed with family dinners, and gatherings, and other things to do, but mostly filled with days with no plans at all, just taking naps, cooking, catching up on Netflix series, playing in the snow and sneaking in a few movies at the theatre. Hope the holidays were good to you as well and that you feel refresh for this New Years that has just begun!

Wishing you all the best for 2019 mylemondroplife friends!

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almost christmas eve

In exactly one week it’s going to be Christmas Eve. How is that even possible? I’m so behind on my usual pre-Christmas blog posts; I had planned to share a Christmas recipe, some Christmas wish lists, some Christmas activities, but with one week to go, I know I won’t have time to do any of this, so I’ll combine a bit of everything in this one. I truly wish I had more time, but between our school and the boys’ school events, the Christmas shows, all the baking, gifts wrapping, sneaking a movie night to watch Mary Poppins, a family cousins reunion AND the actual Christmas festivities, not sure how I will ever survive this next week! But even with all that, I’m still the most excited one in this household! I just LOVE Christmas! And here’s a little recap of what we’ve been up to the last couple of days.

Picking our Christmas Tree: The official opening of the holiday season always starts with the cutting of our tree at Ian’s Christmas Tree Farm. I’ve already shared with you how big of a deal our tree is, and you can read more about our magical tree tradition here. Let’s just say this year didn’t go according to plan. It had snowed a few days before, it was beautiful outside, the weather was great, we were 11 of us crammed into 3 cars, but once out there in the field, we couldn’t find a tree we would agree on. We walked and walked and walked some more, but nothing, nada, zero. All of them too small, or too big. After searching for the perfect one for over an hour and a half, we finally placed the bag under the magic tree, the boys found it, they were happy, we pretended to cut it and hitched a ride on the wagon to go back (actually without a tree). So while we were having hot dogs, maple fudge and brownies by the outside fire pit, Brian picked up a pre-cut one! Only once we had already paid and wrapped up the tree we were told we were actually in the wrong field. Well, you just watch me next year, Clark Griswold will eat his heart out when he sees my perfect tree. After that, we all came back home for some drinks, pasta diner and to decorate the tree. All in all, we didn’t cut it ourselves, but our tree still looks beautiful and smells wonderful, which is all that matters. 

Christmas Party number 1:

We’ve had our annual friends Christmas party ever since I can remember, and for the last 5 or 6 years, we’ve been hiring a chef to cook for us, at home, and it’s been amazing. But this year, our chef double-booked the date and we were left with no one with about two weeks’ notice. So at the last minute, we all decided that each couple would be responsible to take care of one service. And it turned out to be amazing! Saved us a ton of money and the food was delicious. Vero and Mat have the greatest basement for parties like this, with mirrors and lights and loud speakers and a dancing floor, so let’s just say that the next morning was rough for a few of us who drank and danced too much! I just think there may be a little less Tequila involved next year, or so I’ve heard. But we had so much fun, as always, and I can’t wait for next year’s party already.

Nutcracker:

I love the Nutcracker. We saw the new movie a few weeks ago and Liam loved it so much that when a young girl from my school was chosen to take part in the ballet, I knew we had to go. So last week, Liam and I added the Nutcracker Ballet to our list of Christmas things to do. On Thursday night, we skipped the school homework and went to see the show. It truly puts you in the Christmas spirit and I was so proud to cheer on Victoria. She was wonderful to watch, and Liam and I just loved the entire thing, as it was beautiful and so well done.

Christmas Parties 2, 3 and 4:

Last weekend was filled to the brim with activities. First, Friday night was my workplace party at my co-worker’s new house. Well, now I have severe house envy. Well, how could I not? She has a dream kitchen, PLUS a stage (well, an open staircase that looks like a stage) where I came up with a singing/lipsing performance! The games were hilarious, I will definitely plan games like these for Christmas Day at our house. Family, beware and be ready! After my work thing, I drove back-and-forth to the other side of Ottawa to pick up Brian who was at another Christmas party at his friend’s house… so by the time I went to bed it was pretty late! And then Saturday morning I was up early to get everything ready in time as I was hosting family members for diner. We don’t see each other enough, but we do this every year now and we always have a great time. I really love this new tradition of ours. This year was no different. My aunt, uncle and the boys all played a few songs on the piano. We shared old and new stories. The boys saw their baby cousin Evely, who is definitely one of the best dressed toddler ever! And then, on Sunday morning, we drove to Brian’s dad to get the house ready for the Christmas Eve Woodbury family ‘Réveillon’. So while Brian, his brother and his sister were picking up and decorating the tree and the house, I decided to cook my Christmas ‘boulettes’ for the 24th midnight lunch; at least one thing to check off my list, finally!

It’s going to be a busy week, but it’s one of the best week of the year, as this is what it’s all about: gatherings, reminiscing, spending time with the people that matters, with all the love, the bickering and the dirty dishes in between! Christmas would definitely not be the same without all the craziness that comes with it. So, no more complaining about everything I have left to do before December 24th, and I will enjoy each day to the fullest and I’ll catch up on sleep sometime in the new year! Cheers my friends, and have fun, and be safe, hoping the next few weeks are filled with Christmas magic for all of you, as we all deserve some of it this time of year. I wish you all the best Holiday Season possible. Merry Christmas.

 

         


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best chewy ginger cookies

So for a month that is usually pretty long and boring, November literally just flew by. It was a crazy busy month and it doesn’t seems like December will be any different. At least it will be a joyful month, as the house is fully decorated, I’ve received our Holiday cards, Christmas music is playing non-stop on our record player, and the smell of the freshly cut tree makes me really happy every time I come in. There’s still a lot to be done before the 25th, including all my Christmas shopping, which is definitely my least (yeah right!) favorite December activity. One of my new favorite activity: sitting in front of our Christmas tree with a homemade Hazelnut latte and a delicious homemade cookie. I don’t know if you drink latte, but as for the cookies, I’ve got you covered!

Last year, a mom from my school brought some homemade cookies to the admin staff… I initially didn’t have any but when my co-worker told me how delicious they were, I took one. Literally, this was a life changing event as I had just discovered my new favorite cookie! They were simply the most delicious ginger molasses cookies ever, and even tasted like Christmas. I hadn’t finished my cookie that I was already emailing the mom to thank her… while also asking for the recipe, of course! I was so happy when she agreed to send it to me. Well, even if SHE made the best cookies, I clearly didn’t. I tried the recipe 4 times with no success! I spoke to her, checked the recipe… nothing was working, and just could figure out why I couldn’t get this recipe to work. 

So fast forward to 2 weeks ago, I was craving for that said cookie and decided to go on the hunt for an another recipe, one that I could make. And I found it!!! 20 minutes later, I had baked the perfect Chewy Ginger Cookies. They are really easy to make, and guess what, I’d say they’re kind of as good as the one I tasted last year! So I really want to spread the cookie love and share this recipe with all of you. Fast and easy enough to bake after diner or early Saturday morning to enjoy all weekend long. This recipe will give you about 16 large cookies or 22 small ones (just make sure you bake them a little less).

You guys have to try these this December or for Christmas. I’m already on batch number 6, as we just can’t seem to get enough. These stay fresh for a week in an air-tight container. But I don’t think they will last that long! You’ll just have to whip up another batch. Pretty sure these would be awesome as ice cream sandwiches as well… mmm, yep, will definitely try it this weekend! Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

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a weekend in vegas

Well, nobody will call us party poopers, that’s for sure; we even flew to Vegas just to prove it! Our friends Vero and Mat were spending 10 days on the west coast and in Las Vegas, and for over a year now, we had talked about the possibility of meeting them in Vegas for the weekend at the end of their trip. Of course we wanted to, we’re both Vegas obsessed. But after we had booked a family trip to Disney for March 2019, the Vegas prices for the October long weekend started to go up, which means our hopes for an incredibly fun and crazy weekend in Vegas seemed to fade away as the days went by. BUT, never say never! While I was taking the boys Halloween pictures at the pumpkin patch, Brian booked the trip, on his phone, without even telling me. Then on our way back home, he told me to call my mom and tell her she was babysitting next weekend, cause we were going to Vegas!

 So with less than 5 days left to schedule everything with the boys, pack our suitcases and get ready, we were beyond anxious. By Wednesday night, we still hadn’t told our friends, and that’s when Brian had the crazy idea to film us “à la Love Actually” with sign cards telling them we were going to Vegas. It was so funny, both of us in the doorway holding our cards, with Liam filming and Logan laughing at our acting skills… I wouldn’t want anyone to see this, like NEVER! Yet, we still sent it to our friends and then immediately started to get flooded with boomerang videos of their excitement. It’s was simply HILARIOUS!!!

Came Friday, we drove the boys to my Mom, said our goodbyes, and then came back home for the shortest nap, before catching our flight early in the morning. Wish we had a direct flight, but 8 hours later, around lunch time (Vegas time), we finally made it to the Strip. We had booked last minute, with not too many hotel options available… so we ended up staying at the Bally’s, and I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised from the moment we walked into our room. It was super big, like it could have easily fit 2 king size beds with room to spare, it was pretty, cozy, recently renovated and located right in the middle of the strip. Oh, and we got a free room upgrade on the top floor with a really nice view! I like to think we got this cause they know I’m a famous blogger, right!?! We actually loved our experience at the Bally’s and will definitely consider staying there again in the future! They are currently renovating parts of the casino and I can’t wait to see what it will look like next time we’re in town.

So we met with Vero and Mat in the Bally’s casino and then made our way to the Linq’s Promenade for lunch and Barley & Flour. We had some delicious pizzas as well as a few drinks on a terrace before getting on our gambling journey! Over our three days in Vegas, I’d say we probably tried every type of slots machines there is, one after the others, it’s was just incredible. Of course our favs are still BUFFALO, Hangover and Sex and the City, where we actually won a few bonus rounds! The only one who didn’t win was Mat. He has the worst luck I’ve ever seen. Poor him. While Brian was raking it, he kept on losing some more, but he was a good sport about it and kept on cheering for us! Next time it will be your turn, Mat, I can feel it!

We visited the Caesar’s and the Mirage, then went back to our rooms to change and met at Mon Ami Gaby for a late diner. We got a great table on the patio, where we could watch the Fountains of Bellagio. Our server was so nice, he even spoke to us in French for most of the night after he had heard Brian’s accent. Everything about our steak dinner was perfect, but by the time we were done, it was close to midnight (3:00 am our time), and I was starting to feel the time-zone difference. So we played in the casino a little and then called it a night.

Now, here’s the tricky part about your first night in Vegas (especially if you’re from our time-zone)… well, you usually go to bed very late because you want to party as much as you can, but then you wake up very early because of your internal clock! Which sucks, especially with no kids around and pitched dark blinds. So with only a few hours of sleep, we met our friends at Giada’s restaurant at the Cromwell for a late breakfast. We had brunch there 2 years ago when we travelled to Vegas for my Mom and Frank’s wedding, and I really wanted to go back, as it’s such a gorgeous and awesome restaurant. We got another great table overlooking the strip, and some of the best looking plates you will find. Food was to die for and the best part, we got a 5$ brownie. But, wait for it, as it’s a way better story than it sounds… When we entered the restaurant, we saw a gorgeous trolley, full of beautiful glass canisters and cake stands. Full of different kinds of brownies, sauces, toppings, ice creams and candies. We all wanted one so badly, and I was certain that I had seen somewhere that it was only 5$. So even if we were super full after finishing our meal, I was able to convince them, and we decided to get one for the 4 of us. So they made us fill out a form with all of our preferences and selections. We probably asked the server about 10 times if someone was really going to bring the trolley to our table. And they did! So the trolley arrived, I was taking pictures, Brian videos, and Vero some boomerangs (while Mat wanted to get away from our crazy table)!!! Right after the waiter left, they all agreed that I had to be wrong about the price and that it had to be at least 20$, or even much more… but it was so worth it, whatever the price it was going to be! Then we got our bill, and guess what… to our surprise (and by then to my surprise), I was right!!! Let’s just say it was the best (and most delicious) 5$ ever we ever spent in Las Vegas! Finally, before we left, we took the almost-necessary picture in the famous Giada’s photo booth… well, it may have taken us 20 shots before we could have a decent one, but who cares, we were having a blast and had nothing else planned for the day. 

Yeah, absolutely no plans!  We had an awesome day in Vegas, walking around, having drinks, casino hoping, gambling here and there, checking out stores and just spending times together. We took a small break (from like doing nothing) and stopped at a Mexican cantina for margaritas and nachos. YUM!

Then, we went back to win some more money at the Mirage… let’s just say that the Mirage casino is REALLY good to us. We don’t gamble a lot, but we managed to win a few hundred dollars there. So far it was such a great Day-2 in Vegas! 

After that, we went back to our hotel for a quick outfit change, as we had some reservations at Lago by Julian Serrano at the Bellagio. And our great day became an even better one when we got ourselves a table on the terrace, right on the water, literally behind the Fountains of Bellagio. It was Magical. Every 15 minutes, the music from the restaurant would be dimmed down and the music from the fountain show would surround us. We had the best seats in the house and we knew it. It was simply breathtaking. Our server was incredible and also super funny. The table of twelve next to us had ordered 4 huge tomahawk steaks for the group, so when they saw that, Brian and Mat had to ask the waiter where they could find it on the menu. The waiter responded it was usually available only for special order, but that he could make an exception for us… for a mere 350$ each! WHAT???? No thank you! I’m surprised I didn’t die laughing right there from seeing the deception in Brian’s face. But I’m pretty sure the tomahawk wouldn’t have topped the incredibly delicious food we’ve ordered and shared that night: Burrata cheese with red peppers and garlic; Bruschetta Pomodoro; Almond-basil pesto linguini; Braised duck and cheese polenta; and a bone-in rib-eye steak. It will forever be one of the best and most amazing dinner experience I have ever had in my life. It was priceless. They could charge double the price for these tables and I would still ask to sit there. Wish I was there right now!

So, once diner was over, Brian, Mat and Vero had no more wine left, and the four of us started to discuss whether they were having more wine there while enjoying the fountains, or if we were going somewhere else. That’s when Brian decided to walk over to the other table, the one who had the expensive tomahawk steaks (and probably expensive wine), to steal two full left-over wine glasses. I would usually be sooo mad at him for doing something like this, but this time, I couldn’t even say a word as Vero and I were dying laughing as he was walking back toward us with the two glasses in his hands and a huge smile in his face! That’s when the server came out, laughing as well, telling him that left-over wine at 500$ a bottle was usually reserved for the kitchen staff! Vero and I were still laughing out loud, and I was getting very close from peeing my pants! Yeah, part of me was ashamed, but the other part was like, YOLO! 

After diner, we went to the Cosmo hotel, then to Planet Hollywood, where Brian and Mat got a 3 for one… 20$ for two margaritas and a free bull ride. I will spare you the video, but let say Mat was smart enough to drink his margarita while Brian did the ride. The girl right before him was like a pro and lasted a whole song while he lasted about 20 seconds and hurt himself while doing it. What. An. Idiot. But I love him!

After that, we walked around the strip, had more margaritas, played some more casinos, and then the time came where we had to say goodbye to our friends, as they were catching a flight back home early in the morning. Our time together was so short, wish we had at least another day with them, but we had sooo much fun, and made so much memories, and are so happy we decided, last minute, to meet with them in Vegas for the weekend. A weekend I will remember forever! 

On Monday morning, it was super nice outside, so we decided to walk to the MGM Park. Once we made it there, we decided to rent a car, not because we were lazy and didn’t wanted to walk back to the hotel, but because I wanted to scratch a few things of my to-do list. First off, Bad Owl Coffee Shop for a late breakfast. I had just recently discovered this Harry Potter inspired coffee house on Instagram and I reallllly wanted to go. And I was not disappointed! Cozy, dark, gloomy but inviting, full of memorabilia, multiple quotes on tables and walls, and it seemed like everywhere you’d looked, you could find a little something you had missed earlier. Oh, and a menu worthy of the Great Hall. As if it was faith, I had the Alan Rickman table… probably my favorite HP character, although I truly love them all! So we shared the waffles and I had the best Nutella latte ever. Wanted to stay longer, but I also wanted to scratch more off my list. So guess what I had seen on my way there: a Target! Of course I needed a Target stop. And then, after a little shopping spree, we drove to Seven Magic Mountains, which is about 25 minutes away from the Strip. You drive through the desert and then, in the middle of nowhere, you see 7 bright and colourful rock totems. This was sooo AMAZING to see. It truly was magical, and the colors on the pictures are simply amazing. Wish we had stopped 2 years prior with the boys, they would have loved it.

Once we left the desert, we made one last stop at the North Premium Outlets, and then we went back to our hotel to spend the rest of the days just walking around and enjoying the fact that we were in Vegas. As soon as we parked the car at our hotel, I was really hungry and I knew exactly what I wanted to eat! So I scratched off another thing on my list, In-N-Out Burger! Yep! We definitely should have In-N-Out Burger in Canada. I would be the first in line! Brian had the Gordon Ramsay fish and chips with a Guinness in a cup, which he definitely enjoyed! But then, after two days of being really lucky with our gambling, well we started to lose some (most) of our winnings, so Brian decided to gamble a little less and focus on all the margarita places we could find, having a drink here and there, just relaxing, walking around, and enjoying each other. Not sure when was the last time we actually went away just the two of us, but it felt great. We talked about our life, our jobs, the boys, our friends, the future trips we’d like to do, our house and how fun this weekend was. We had thought of going to a super fancy place for dinner, but the time difference was catching up on us, so we decided to not go back to the room and change, and go directly to one of our favorite restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory. We were exhausted, we had walked over 30000 steps, so during dinner I wanted to cry thinking about having to walk back to our hotel. But, as usual, we had such a great time, and once again, our server was super friendly and nice, our food was delicious, hello Bellagio Chicken, plus the to-go Godiva Cheesecake was the bribe I needed to walk back to my room! 

We played a few rounds of Buffalo on the way, then made it to our room, ate some cheesecake, packed-up our stuff and then it was time for bed. Next morning came by too quickly. We drove to the airport and then started the long journey back home. I was sooo anxious to see the boys, but it had to wait in the morning as we arrived back home past 1 am and went directly to bed as I was working a few short hours later! 

What a trip. Vegas, you were amazing to us, once again! Thanks to my Mom and Frank who took care of our boys and made this trip possible and stress free for us. And lastly, Vero and Mat, thanks for letting us tag along your 10th year wedding anniversary trip. This weekend will forever be remembered, from the video we sent you, your boomerangs, the moment I jumped into your arms when I first saw you, Brian’s incredible gambling luck, the 350$ piece of meat and wine stealing, the bull ride, all the margaritas, the ultimate brownie, the Lago diner and our singing performance by the Bellagio Fountains, the long walks, the long talks, and the countless laughs we shared with you guys. We love you so much and can’t wait for the next one! Maybe for OUR 10th year anniversary, next year?

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2018 beau’s oktoberfest: great food, great beers, and a lot of mud

Life has been crazy lately, and I still haven’t had the chance to share this year’s Beau’s Oktoberfest yet. It may seem a bit late to talk about it, given that October is already over and Beau’s Oktoberfest was actually in September, but since we loved it so much this year again, I really wanted to share our weekend in beautiful Vankleek Hill with all of you. And the good news is that we only have to wait another 11 months until the next one, instead of the usual 12!

We were sooo excited about Beau’s Oktoberfest’s 10th edition: we had bought our tickets at the brewery earlier this summer, scheduled our babysitters months ago, had made plans to meet with friends and family throughout the weekend, had prepared outfits in advance for both Friday and Saturday, and considering that in the last few years we had sunny days over 40 degree Celsius as well as rainy days closer to zero degree Celsius, we had prepared outfit options for all possible weather conditions… but NOPE, we did not! My beautiful Hunter Boots and my lovely rain jacket could not take on what stormed through our region on that Friday evening.

Never in my wildest dreams I would have thought a tornado would hit so close to home. So I left work at 4 on that Friday afternoon and I remember the sky in my rear mirror being somewhat scary. Driving home was weird, sunny in front, purple and gray on top, and pitch black in the back. Picked up the boys at school, met Brian at home, packed up the car and left, still not knowing what was about to happen in Ottawa and surrounding areas that night. Nearly minutes after we left, we got a weather warning on our iPhones and at the same time a tornado was touching down in a few towns and villages close to us. We were so lucky, some, not as much. The pictures we saw from places close to us just made me cry; and still makes me.

So we arrived safely to my Mom’s and hid there for a while hoping the wind and rain would calm down. Once we thought the storm had passed, we decided to venture to Vankleek Hill to attend our beloved Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, as we arrived, the rain had picked up again, and they had to close it down for the night due to another approaching storm. Clad in our rain boots and ponchos, a bunch of us gathered at a local restaurant and spent the evening there having a few Beau’s beers while talking about what had just hit our region, thanking our lucky star we had been spared, hoping no one had been hurt.

By next morning, we were in top shape and ready to party! So we dressed up in our best rubber boots and out of the door we were. Pretzels, craft beers and live music here we come!

I was still hungry from the night before, which I guess was a good thing, cause I had carefully planned ahead my menu for the weekend, and I still wanted to try all of it, so having to squeeze a two-day menu into a one-day event was going to be a challenge, but I was up for it! When we got there, the fairground was a mess… like, a muddy mess. Thank God we were both wearing our rubber boots. Some areas were okay, but most of it was covered with mud. If I wouldn’t have worn my Hunter boots, I wouldn’t have made it out of there alive. And by that I mean I wouldn’t have been able to get to the pretzel vendor, which was surrounded by a foot deep of mud and water… but I made it there, twice actually!

Sadly, one of my favourite vendors had to cancel due to the storm. But don’t worry, I will satisfy my raclette craving very soon as we got reservations at Meule & Caquelon next weekend! So as we were walking around the fairground, we met with friends everywhere, at every corner we turned and every tap bar we stopped at. We shared drinks, tried amazing food and listened to music I’m not used to listen to. Brian had told me there was one show he absolutely didn’t wanted to miss, so he dragged me to the small stage just in time for the show; what I didn’t know was that he was about to turn into a real groupie in front of the stage, listening to this local singer songwriter I had never really heard of. Well, Rory Taillon, you have a fan for life! And I agree with my husband, yours was the best show at this year’s Oktoberfest.

We then visited the Midway Games, definitely one of our favorite things at Beau’s Oktoberfest. After all, who can pass on a game of Plinko? Not me! Can’t remember who won but it was so much fun. We also played a game of sling shots, which we sucked at and didn’t win anything. Then played a few rounds of ring toss on the beer bottles. Then ended it with Brian’s new found favorite, Roll In Zie Hay, a balance and precision game where he won three times in a row and then wouldn’t shut up about it! Overall, we basically spent 40 bucks to win a Beau’s pin, but what the heck, Brian really wanted it, he was happy about it, so it was totally worth it!

This year’s awards for best food go to the Reuben Egg Rolls from Moose McGuire’s… those were simply AMAZING, and also to the 3 frozen ice cream treats I had from Pascale’s Ice Cream! Please don’t judge, I do not drink alcohol, but I can definitely hold my ice cream!

I may not have been able to try everything, but I definitely try many things… so I’d like to give a shout out to the Smoque Shack for their Brisket Mac and Cheese Cone, for our local favorite Vert Fourchette for their delicious Beer Battered Fish-on-a-stick, and to Hintonburg Public House for their out-of-my-mind Seed to Sausage Jalapeño & Cheese Curd Smoke Corn Dog.

We were once again in awe from all the keg toss competitions, the stein holding competitions (that Brian still didn’t do but once again said he would try ‘next’ year), and this year’s most fun to watch: the team-pulling-truck competition. Boy, I would never sign up for this, but it was truly awesome to watch! And once again, that guy on the mic is worth alone the entrance fee, as he’s just so clever and funny in congratulating and insulting the participants. Can’t wait to hear him make fun of my husband if he ever decides to do the stein holding competition!

As the tradition goes, we once again ended up at good ol’ Miss Hawkesbury, and once again, ended up doing Tequila shots… yep, they were all drunk already but found a way to convince me they had to do shots to keep the tradition alive! When the place doesn’t have enough shot glasses for 7 people, you know it’s time to go home! But they do have the best pizza and poutine in town, so I watched them doing shots while I enjoyed the last item on my previously planned Beau’s Oktoberfest weekend menu. And I agree, you don’t mess with traditions… so we’ll be back next year!!!

It was definitely another great Oktoberfest! I wouldn’t imagine an end-of-summer or beginning-of-fall season without it. It is definitely one of my favorite outside activities of the year, year after year (probably Brian’s favorite!). Finally, I’d like to add that you guys did an amazing job dealing with all the unexpected and unforeseen turn of events that happened on Friday evening. I am really proud to be a Beau’s fan, and we can’t wait for next year’s; let’s all just hope the next one will be less eventful, weather wise. Prost my friends.

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