March Break 2018: Atlanta #ATL

The question was “how far would we have to drive to get to Spring?” The winning answer was Atlanta, a 13 hour drive from London, Ontario. Only we didn’t end up driving because John got an awesome seat sale the day before we were set to drive. #winning

Detroit airport bead pic with Cheez-Its #pepperjackforthewin

Flying the day we planned to start driving meant we were not going to struggle getting to our main event in ATL, an Atlanta United soccer game on Sunday

The Mercedes Benz Stadium is HUGE. The Atlanta Falcons also play here ( Americans like their football 🏈). The ATL United break a lot of attendance records in the MLS, we broke another on Sunday afternoon, but it’s hardly fair when your stadium seats 75,000 🤣

It was an exciting game, Opening Day in fact, with Atlanta winning against DC 4-1

We were last in Atlanta about 17 years ago when Gunnar was 1 1/2 ( and Beckett wasn’t around yet), we came for Easter with the extended Koreen family. We stayed in a different area this time, downtown, which was super convenient for the soccer match and the attractions like CNN, Coke and the aquarium. Otherwise downtown is basically office towers, parking garages, construction and empty lots. Maybe a handful of restaurants. NO SHOPPING. AT ALL.

I had a lot of Walking Dead moments.

We went to CNN and took the tour. And bought burritos at Moe’s because there is deal when Atlanta United scores 3 goals.

We did not see Carl Azuz or Anderson Cooper. ☹️

We took the Coke tour

We made Coke art

We did the Coke tour back in the day, in fact it was Gunnar’s first time having any kind of pop, but this is a new facility and all new exhibits. It’s very interactive and worth your time if you love all those coke commercials like me.

There is an AMAZING Southern cooking restaurant right by our hotel called Atlanta Breakfast Club #abc and it is so good, it makes it okay that there isn’t much else to choose from ( although it’s only open for breakfast and lunch)

We drank way too many different kinds of pop in the Coke tasting room ( I probably drank more in half an hour than I did all year up to now 🤣) and it was 2:45 when we got to #abc but they said no problem to coming in.

Shrimp and grits, chicken and biscuits and chicken and waffles OMG, so good.

I actually left my glasses there and the owner drove after us several blocks to return them. Seriously, if you go to Atlanta, eat here.

We went to the Martin Luther King, Jr Historic Site which is part of the National Park Service. We went here with Gunnar back in the day. We have an awesome picture of Gunnar taken here up on our family room wall that we wanted to recreate with Beckett.

I should post both pics but since I’m in Atlanta right now I’ll just post B’s

There is a lot more to the site than I remember

The church was here when we first visited, but I don’t remember walking over to it or through the refurbished neighbourhood

We ended up walking back to our hotel from the MLK, Jr site. It had the potential to get a bit sketch at times but Southern people are gracious and polite no matter their circumstances. I was mostly afraid of walkers 🧟‍♂️ 🧟‍♀️

There is A LOT of amazing art on walls and buildings in Atlanta. I tried to get photos of what I saw but it was not always convenient to stop

Have you read the March series of graphic novels by John Lewis ? They are amazing, they tell John Lewis’ story from birth, to the March on Washington, to becoming a congressman. I borrowed them from the library and I’m having regrets over not buying them

The Atlanta Aquarium is world class. And gigantic.

It has the coolest penguin observatory

And belugas ❤️

And neon fish from the 80’s

And a really sinister off brand Nemo, named Deepo

On the plus side, I’m not so worried about walkers anymore

Do you watch Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives? We do and we always try to go to one of Guy Fieri’s shoutouts wherever we go.

In Atlanta, it was Fox Bros BBQ ( Roger Mooking from Man, Fire, Food was there when we were and filming an episode, that’s how epic this restaurant is)

The portions are insane and so rich. It was too much food and it’s taken days to recover 😂

Have you ever wondered what Frito Pie is? Just me? It’s Fritos, basically loaded like nachos and still in the bag ( that bag weighed more than the beef brisket burger), Texas fries are poutine levelled up #everythingsbiggerintexas

Let’s not forget what John ordered ; chicken and ribs and 2 sides, we’ve gained 40 pounds #fact

Thursday was the most gorgeous day by far, it went up to 17C so we scrapped plans to go to the High Museum of Art and went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

They have some gorgeous Chihuly glass that reminded me of Seattle

See how hard it is being Spring here 😍

There was an orchid exhibit

They were in a hot house

There was a desert garden that overlooked Piedmont Park

And a rare pink tree

I can’t even fathom painting it

It was an amazing afternoon

I might have gone back to Atlanta Breakfast Club 🙄

for a bacon, fried green tomato and lettuce on a biscuit sandwich OMG it wassooooo good.


Family Day Weekend 2018

It was feeling like forever since all my boys were in the same place, so a mini holiday in Toronto was organized by John ( away from home = no video games, eating at the same table, shared experiences)

We stayed at the Hilton which is across the street from one of my favourite restaurants

We celebrated the Lunar New Year a day late at Momofuku by ordering WAY too much food

Beckett had soccer on Saturday afternoon so Saturday consisted of the drive, checking in and eating a lot of food.

View from the 28th floor

Sunday had a bit more packed into it, we started with Vikings

The exhibit was jam packed with people who were slow readers 😡 but I excel at reading upside down and over shoulders so I got the gist of it. My favourite part?


It makes total sense since Pandora and Trollbeads started in Scandinavian countries

The boys went to see a photography exhibit next. I went to see Dior

It was wonderful!

Photographs don’t do the dresses and the exquisite hand stitching and embroidery any justice.

This dress reminds me of one my Auntie Cathie has that I borrowed to wear to a wedding when I was in university.

And beads

We ate lunch in Yorkville at Flo’s Diner and we did some shopping before heading to see Black Panther

I LOVE the Marvel universe and I hope they just keep expanding it. This one was stellar and I need some new Funkos.

Dinner afterwards was at Wurst on King Street and it was perfect. It has communal tables, a HUGE beer list and sausages like no other place, sort of has an Oktoberfest vibe ( but way calmer)

They serve Belgian fries ( cooked in duck fat) which are amazing, I had dirty fries ( piled with onions, peppers and jalapeños) Beckett had kangaroo sausage which is his new favourite food, John had Elk and Gunnar was a traditionalist and had Oktoberfest. It was a really fun dinner place and G looks forward to going back in a few months 😉

Monday was home time and we stopped for lunch in Hamilton

John read about Hambrgr in a Globe & Mail article about restauranteurs leaving Toronto and high rents for Hamilton. Lucky for us he remembered and it was open on Family Day because it is hands down the best burger place in the world.

We started with Tater Tot fondue

I had the Le Royale with cheese

Everybody was all over their burgers before I could get pictures. I seriously could have eaten everything on the menu ( although not soon, I’m still sooooo full)

Back to School Culinary Adventures

I like to cook. 

And I LOVE cookbooks ( to be fair I love all books) 

Some are better than others, some are weeknight inspiration, some are special occasion inspiration, some are if I had all day and no laundry and a cleaning lady inspiration.

Sometimes ( because I have been making dinner FOREVER) I just wing it.

I bought a new cookbook this summer that was written by 2 Canadians. I have been following them on social media for a while, I made 2 of their recipes this week. I also winged a beef stew and made some scones from a recipe on Pinterest. 

I am not a novice cook. It is just so much nicer to use a book or a picture or a blog when I’m planning my grocery list. Or after I’ve been to the market and I have a trunk load of awesomeness to find some direction to go in. I may cook chicken twice a week, but it ain’t the same chicken.

This week it felt like there were more misses than hits 😔

These Peach Pie Scones with vanilla glaze were all levels of awesome!! I made mine with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and buttermilk instead of double cream. I had one pretty soon after it came out of the oven and it was sooooo good I skipped the icing.

I bought ingredients for a beef stew ( it’s been feeling so cool in the mornings and evenings) and then couldn’t remember where I saw it 🙄 I have made this one before (Beef Stew )and it was really good but I forgot about it ( that’s the problem with Pinterest) I have Martha Stewart’s One Pot cookbook 

and there is a Beef and Barley Soup recipe so I worked with that. It was good and it was really good the second day!!! So basically a hit.

The trouble came when I made the White Fish and Pea chowder 

It was bland and runny and really not worth the effort. Although B took it for lunch twice because he would rather eat it than a wrap. So that’s the benchmark of rock bottom, if he would rather eat a wrap then you know it’s awful.

Next batch of trouble was with some biscuits I made to go with the second day stew. I got the recipe from the new cookbook 

I had all the ingredients ( who has spelt flour? 🙋🏻) and 👎🏻👎🏻 Beckett wouldn’t eat his ( this kid eats just about everything except wraps) 

I tried serving them at breakfast warmed up with jam, still 👎🏻👎🏻

Obviously 2 recipes do not mean the whole book is bad but I’m not off to a good start.

This morning while I wait to hear how our Honda Pilot is ( lights came on, wouldn’t start, blah, blah 💸💸💸) I made 

Healthy Chai Spice Chocolate Chip Zucchini Loaf and it’s a winner no matter what those judgemental people I live with say

Our Nation’s Capital

You can’t celebrate Canada turning 150 and not go to Ottawa #itaintright

We got to Ottawa later than planned. There is a LOT of construction in Montréal, like unreal amounts -Londoners can not complain, and there is just as much on Quebec highways. This means by the time we made it from Shawinigan to Montreal, it was rush hour and that means a 3 – 3 1/2 hour drive to Ottawa took almost 6 hours 😬 so we made it to Ottawa in time to have dinner. Which meant no sightseeing, but just right for our dinner date! We took our first Uber #lateadopters and had a great time walking around downtown and then getting caught up. It was wonderful. Thx Mike and Cathy and Gillian! ( no photos 😣) 

So we have one day to do it all.

First up is Mösaicanada, an amazing garden sculpture phenomena 

It was free. And freaking awesome.

Then we went to the Museum of History. It was the one Museum I said we wouldn’t go to because we have gone to it every time we’ve come to Ottawa. Alas, they had an exhibit on hockey so I was overruled. 

Boys 😡

The ‘Our History’ exhibit is exhaustive. There is really too much to take in in one visit. It is a very truthful accounting of our history. We have made so many mistakes. So many freaking awful mistakes. I truly hope Canadians can learn from the past and make thoughtful and compassionate choices moving forward. 

Sun came out while we were inside ☀️

For the second night in a row, we met friends for dinner 🎉 we drove out to Greely to visit with Lee, Alex and Jackson. We had a yummy dinner and got semi caught up and then Alex and Jackson had to head to hockey try outs. I took no photos AGAIN

We debated staying another night because it seemed like we weren’t scratching the surface on what there was to see and do. Our hotel was booked up so decided to go to the Canadian War Museum and walk up to Parliament Hill and then drive to the cottage.

There was an amazing exhibit on Vimy Ridge to commemorate its 100 year anniversary.  We were at Vimy 2 summers ago so it was still fresh in our memories. 

I loved this model of the monument at Vimy. In real life the monument is HUGE and you really have no idea the detail on the different statues. It was so nice to see each part up close.

The other exhibit we saw documented Canada’s history in war starting with all of the wars that went into Canada’s creation and all of the ones that followed to date. Another exhaustive detailing. It would be better to pick a time frame and just focus on it. 

We had a snack in the cafe and then walked to Parliament Hill ( about 20 minutes) 

This means we saw some things we might not have seen:

The soon to open National Holocaust Monument across the street

The Firemen memorial

The Supreme Court of Canada 

We finally got there 

Another snack 

We bought some supplies at Byward Market for the cottage and headed back to the car.

Last stop in Ottawa

Best. Doughnuts. Ever. 

Cottage bound.

Les Chaises Rouges

As part of the National Park’s open doors event in 2017, they have put pairs of red muskoka/adirondack chairs in all of their parks for people to use and photograph themselves in or with and then share on social media platforms with the #sharethechair hashtag. Take a peak on twitter and you will see some awesome pics and views.

I wasn’t leaving without seeing them and as I explained in an earlier post 2 of the 3 pairs were not an option ( bears and portaging) so we were going on a big hike at Lac Rosoy for our only chance. It was a workout but gorgeous all the way

So many stairs 

A long and floating walkway 

And a crazy good view from those sweet red chairs

We took a little break and had some lunch on our 8 km hike

We followed up with a swim at Lac Édouard ( copying my sister’s traditional shot) 

Sand castle and moat building, reading about sharks and having a swim

If all that summer fun wasn’t more than enough for one day, it was McDonalds’ 50th anniversary of their first restaurant in Canada 🇨🇦 ( Richmond BC to be exact) so we joined what felt like everyone in Shawinigan for celebratory burgers 

Watching our order #896 climb the charts 

Making family history while engaging in Canadian history = a perfect day 

Deuxième partie de nos vacances: La Mauricie National Park

We actually stayed in Shawinigan instead of camping #crazytimes Beckett spent enough time in a tent while on out trip and I can’t bear the packing and unpacking of all that stuff anymore.

Canada’s Birthday meant free National Park passes for all Canadians with access to parks all year long. John was all over this as soon as they were available. We wanted to visit one we hadn’t been to before and that we could drive to, this proved a bit tricky as we have been to quite a few in both directions from London. We had never heard of La Mauricie or Les Forges du St Maurice but they are well worth the trip.

The age old game of stick boat. You are never too old to play.

Our first day was driving through the park and stopping at look outs and having a picnic (besides the stick boat adventure) 

We were on the look out for red adirondack/muskoka chairs that are in all the National Parks this summer for photo ops and sharing on social media. There are 3 pairs at La Mauricie. The easiest pair to find are in an area that is closed because of bears #freakingwildlife The second pair is at a look out only accessible by canoe and not on the first day of an out trip #whyarethegodsagainstme Third pair will be the charm on the second day in the park, but there are thunder storms on deck for today so that hike has to wait. We made it to a cross country ski chalet coincidentally right when the rain hit and Beckett saw lightening strike the ground right outside on the Tarmac.

A highlight of the day for Beckett and John was actually in Shawinigan. It was finding the arena and seeing the Cataractes’ try outs/practice going on 

And the requisite purchase of fan supplies 

We googled the word ‘cataractes’ because the image ⬆️😳 but it refers to falls which Shawinigan is known for, still not sure about the image ( Shawinigan means south portage or angular portage, something to do with avoiding those falls 🤷🏻‍♀️most likely)  perhaps another example of poor judgment ( including ours supporting it ) 

I discovered amazing coffee

with wifi which is lovely on all fronts because the coffee at the hotel is awful as is the wifi in our room, despite being the closest room to the front desk in the building. 

Overall, a very good day

Last day in Montréal ( days ago now) 

My connection to the internets has been tenuous, so blogging is at a snail’s pace

Last day in Montréal means subway rides and lots of walking. 

We headed to Olympic Park and the biodôme first thing ( still working on it 40 years later 😏)

It’s a bit smaller than we thought and even though you walk through the first 2 climate zones, you only get to view the third ( arctic) one

John was using his listening ears 😂and we found the sloth 🎉

Of course they had raccoons, I can see those in my backyard, so I am not taking a picture of them, otters on the other hand, you can’t tear me away from ❤️ I am semi-transfixed by Sturgeons, so ugly but pre-historic 

A baby was born 


Apparently there were penguins up here before we ate them all

No penguins around so we went to Le Gourmet Burger for lunch ( I couldn’t finish mine #thankgodforteenageboysnofoodgoestowaste ) 

Much walking follows

We headed to MMFA Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where 2 great exhibits are on ( article in Saturday, August 12 issue of the Globe and Mail talks about the Expo67 exhibit we saw earlier and Revolution here) 

Revolution was amazing! It covered the cultural, political and social changes that were taking place ( and why), the sense of optimism is unmistakable in all of the colours and styles of the times. As a complete juxtaposition, we were just learning of Trump finally acknowledging the events in Charlottesville and his ‘condemnation’ of white supremists, neo-nazis, etc’ and the hollow ring to it all. How could the Revolution we were looking at have ended up with these current events? 

The second exhibition was more my thing 

Not that John and Beckett don’t share my belief in Love is Love, but I like the wedding finery more 👰🏻👰🏼👰🏽👰🏾👰🏿🤵🏻🤵🏼🤵🏽🤵🏾🤵🏿

I wanted to touch all the fabrics. I wanted pictures of everything but there were too many people in a smallish space to get good photos without the people in the pics #wrecksthevibe

And just because I fell in love with this one ( part of the MMFA collection) 

Isn’t it gorgeous? 

 The news for the last while out of the US has made me wonder how people in a first world country can be so evil, so unforgiving, so narrow minded, so racist, so brutal. It feels sweeping and bottomless and horrific. Spending time in Montréal, with its build up to Pride, celebrations of love and art and music everywhere we turned put some balance to the craziness erupting too close to home. If people can create all this beauty, there must be hope for us


Dinner was poutine

See John at the end? #neverleavehomewithoutreadingmaterial

It all looks kind of awful but it tasted divine. Completely worth the wait and a fitting end to our Montréal adventure

Next stop: Shawinigan and La Maurice National Park ( I wonder if we’ll see Jean Chrétien?)

More Montréal

There has been a lot of walking.

We bought subway passes but we get walking and looking around and something catches our eye; art, live music, cool shops, gorgeous old/funky modernist architecture and the next thing you know we are almost wherever we were going, so we just walk. We sleep well.

The Musèe d’art contemporain MAC ( museum of contemporary art) had a really great exhibit on Expo67. The ad above shows a woman looking at a scrapbook her parents made on their honeymoon to Expo67. In the exhibit, she sings a song that’s a poem about the Expo and images flash from the scrapbook, it is quite moving. There are many different video presentations showing then and now and different points of view. There are models of the different pavilions then and now. We loved a drone video following the path the monorail took ( it has since been dismantled). The exhibit is part time capsule, part performance art, sometimes interactive and extremely captivating- so I took no photos 🤣

Beckett and I did enjoy some of the other exhibits

That’s me ⬆️

There was a whole interactive exhibit with light and shadow, some parts of it overlapped with others. We were laughing pretty hard at some inappropriateness but mostly just thrilled at the cleverness of it all.

Rainbows are everywhere

And then water and light played a role

Just when you think people must seriously be incorrigible and we are doomed ( listen to any news report right now involving Trump and white supremists), going to an art gallery can restore your belief in why we should all be here. The creativity and cleverness, the ability to produce an awe effect proves there are people out there taking steps against all that garbage we need to dispose of sooner than later. 

Look for the beauty in your day 

Summer 2017: First stop Montréal

It’s just the 3 of us on the road this summer because Gunnar is a second year counsellor at CQE. We wanted to stay in Canada this summer to celebrate the 150th and since Montréal is celebrating her 375th, this seemed the place to start.

John drove and with a stop for gas and lunch, it took 8 hours. Traffic was kind of nuts past Toronto around Bowmanville, not sure where they were all going to on a Thursday afternoon?

We drove straight to the Jean Talon market ( great sign) 

Grabbed dinner and breakfast

Best tortiere in the world. Everyone already knows about the bagels.

Friday’s weather was predicted to be hot and sunny so we headed to Parc Jean-Drapeau where the beautiful Plage Jean-Dorè is located. It’s a man made paradise created by all the rubble from building the Metro and filling in part of the St Lawrence river #smartasf@€£

We were so worried it would be packed 😂

Parks Canada had shovels and pails for families to borrow and cute little slides for kids to use in the water.

But the big kids went around to the other side for Aquazilla

My #lackofabs are killing me from hauling myself out of the water every time I slipped, fell, slid, launched into the water and from laughing so hard. 

Maximum 80 people can be on this Wipe Out like obstacle course for an hour. John and I were exhausted, Beckett just wanted a food break.

We did take a food break but then just hung out on the beach instead of taking on Aquazilla again. 

We went back to our hotel to clean up and walk by our hotel.

Montréal has some amazing outdoor art and music everywhere in the summertime.

We had a quick bite to eat at Olive et Gourmando

Everything was delicious !!!!

We are right on the edge of the gaybourhood and there are rainbows and acceptance everywhere you look

This awesome garden has a pop up bar, live music and a vegetable garden. In the middle of Montréal. Crazy. Fantastic. Goodness.

There is tennis to watch too. No tickets for us, but the tv coverage is fantastic en français.

One Day Adventure

Today we went on a wild Wednesday adventure, just John, Beckett and me.

We went to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. What a beautiful artistic space this is! Teachers get in free 🎉and students get a discounted rate 🎉

We went this week, instead of when Beckett was at camp, because there is a joint collaboration with LEGO at the RBG until mid September.

It’s sort of a scavenger hunt to find the LEGO sculptures.

It was a pretty hot day today but it’s amazing how much cooling a garden or green space does to the temperature. It’s also fun to find shady nooks for respite from the sun.

These LEGO signs let you know where the sculptures are and some interesting facts.

Some of the LEGO sculptures are big and some are delicate

It was wonderful to wander through the gardens and find them.

I loved that all of the flowers and plants are ones that could grow in my garden and I have a bit of a list and a lot of inspiration now.

Beckett cooling off

John plotting our course 

Telling time 

Which means it’s time for lunch 

Right across from RBG is a great place for lunch that has been around since 1930 😱it serves every kind of foot long hotdog imaginable and ice cream, it’s called Easterbrook’s and I totally recommend it 🌭🍦