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

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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

Right? 

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 🌭🍦

Mondays have me like 🙃😣

Monday morning: the alarm goes off, I jump out of bed. 
Seriously, I jump. 

I always get up as soon as the alarm goes off. Nobody else in my house does. By 7:30 I have showered, checked emails, put the kettle on ( for tea to take to school)  made coffee, organized breakfast and put on table for boys and started eating mine, put all lunches together and am heading back upstairs to finish getting ready.

 Because no one but me is moving above snail speed, John drives the boys to school.

I am planning on just working the morning. Then putting gas ⛽️ in my car. Visiting my mom. Watching the boys play soccer. Going to the grocery store. Getting in a walk before dinner. 

First I have to get to school. It’s construction season, so every Monday morning I second guess my route


At some point during my drive I have to remind myself to keep breathing. Every traffic jam has me scrambling to remember if Mr Koreen said this was where the construction started, a drawback to occasionally working is not working at the same place, time, class. I’m starting to think my flexibility muscle has broken 🤔

I am frazzled to start. The first part of the day is off the rails. The kids are ding dongs and I’m getting wound up.

Morning recess = 

Multiple phone calls on my phone from high school because one teenager was still late for school. 🤦🏻‍♀️#howisthatpossible

And I am now working for the full day. Which is awesome 💰

But the first quarter was brutal. 

So much talking. Them. 

So much yelling. Me.

The day has to change or I will lose my shit. 

I go tell Mr Koreen ( it’s recess) that I am now working all day so maybe he can pick boys up from the soccer game at Western. This is good because he has double planning time at the end of the day and seldom gets to see them play. And he suggests we go out for lunch together. He’ll save his lunch for tomorrow. So now I have a date 🎉

Second quarter of the day goes WAY better. We have been working on telling time ⏰ and now make a flip book. Everyone is on task and quiet-ish. Then I read an awesome story The Perfect Pet by Margie Palatini


The Perfect Pet ( link to hear story) 
It is an awesome story and the class was rapt while I read  #thepowerofbooks #readmore

Then literacy centres

FINALLY lunch.

And it was just like a date. Or like we were on a holiday. 

We went to Starbucks because I had a reward to redeem and getting lunch that way is AWESOME.


And John bought 


So more points earned 😜

We ate on the patio in the sunshine. There was no one else there and it was a total break from the chaos of my morning.  Mr Koreen, who never goes out for lunch and never wants to spend money on lunch said we should go out for lunch every time I work a full day 😘 It would probably take away from the specialness but it was a nice sentiment

I took a #mcctrish in the sunshine ☀️ 


And the rest of the day went great.

Until I discovered some one was passing nasty notes. And then I was feeling all ugh again. But the office handled it 🙏🏻

I made it to the car wash. 

And 2 grocery stores (because credit/debit was out at all Loblaws stores in my hood and I had to use cash so my list got 👎🏻scaled way down) . 

And my walk. And on my walk I stressed about all the crap. And remembered all the good stuff.

A whole day of work.

The kids turned it around.

We got almost all the work left by the teacher done WELL.

A lunch date.

A clean car.

Groceries = necessities and dinner became one of my infamous cook ups:

Asian beef and greens noodle bowl


Why is it so hard to let go of the setbacks? The good far outweighed the bad but I had to shake myself out of it. 

#positiveattitude 👍🏻 

So I lied about our last day #stillinMadrid

Well the day started promising enough. I heard the alarm go at 5:30 and got right up and in the shower. The boys didn’t require 15 wake up prompts! There was a little bit of food left for breakfast to tide us over until we got to the airport. The taxi app we used to get a taxi to pick us up at our apartment worked like a charm ( if you could see the crazy, convoluted, tiny warren of streets we navigated you’d share my amazement!) 

There is little to no traffic on Madrid streets at 7 am so we made it to the airport in record time 👍🏻 it was a bit disconcerting that at 7:20 am there were next to no security staff on but they all hustled out to man their X-ray machines quick enough.

 I wasn’t chosen for extra screening! 🎉


Some time for candy choosing! 


Settled in nicely! 


Reading and making notes so not paying attention to the time. And then I kept seeing some people pacing and I was thinking ” what hell is going on? Sit the freak down already!” 

And I looked at the time. And the announcements started. Followed by the dreaded “gather all your belongings” 

That’s the kiss of death. 


Bus delivery.


Air Canada is hosting flight 837 here with all meals included. 

It was almost 4 before we got here. 


Football in the bar keeps the boys occupied.

Then we went out to explore around the hotel. There’s a lovely park next door.






It’s almost time for dinner 🎉🍷

Then early to bed to start it all again tomorrow. 


So far they are sticking to ⬆️ the above insanity