Saunders Farm – An absolute MUST for Halloween lovers!

Hey everyone,

Hope you’re having a great week so far! As you know, Halloween is just around the corner and for us Halloween lovers out there this is exciting. My family and I have always been huge Halloween lovers and lucky for me our son is as well. Rain, shine or snow my mom took my sister and I trick or treating every year. I remember there being a few years where it rained all night but mom never kept us in. Worst case scenario, she drove along the way so that we could jump in and out of the car as need be lol As for my dad, well he is a HUGHalloweenen lover as well. He especially likes to decorate. As kids, he would always set up a strobe light, Halloween music and hand out the best chocolate and candies. To this day, he still calls me if Hocus Pocus (my absolute FAVOURITE halloween movie) is on TV. FYI though Papa G. There’s no need for you to call anymore. We bought it for $14 on the play station this week. I KNOW! You’re probably thinking that we paid way too much lol but it was worth it. Our son was begging us to watch it so we went for it.

As previously mentioned, our son is also a huge Halloween lover. He loves MJs thriller and anything witch or skeleton related so I decided to take him to Saunders Farm this year. He isn’t quite four years old yet so I wasn’t sure if he was too young to go but it turns out he was the perfect age for it.

Lucky for us, my parents-in-law (Mona and Paul) joined us. We planned to go for 10am when it opened and to my surprise, it was already packed. Good news is that despite there being a line-up to get in, the parking lot was very organised and there was a lot of room available. For those who don’t know, you can buy your tickets online and present them once you get there. I’m not sure that it speeds things up but you do get a bit of a discount if you buy them ahead of time.

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Below is a picture of the entrance to Saunders Farm. How stunning are the colours of the leaves? Beautiful aren’t they. Both the drive there and the farm itself were stunning. Fall is such a beautiful season.

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Although it was pretty packed, the farm wasn’t too overcrowded. We could easily walk through and we weren’t bumping into people. Our first stop was, of course, the barn of terror:

At first, I thought that this was a good idea. How scary could it be lol My daughter and I parked the stroller at the exit and waited for my son and in-laws. We must have waited at least 15 minutes for them to make their way through. During this time, I could hear screaming, loud spooky music, and what sounded like banging on the walls. I especially started regretting letting him in once I saw a couple kids crying as they left the barn lol Good news is that most of the kids came out smiling and laughing and our son came out asking to go in again. I guess he enjoyed it 😉 Apparently, they didn’t get through the whole thing though because someone was scared…not sure if it was Noah or Mimi 😉 but Noah surely went back one last time with his Papi before leaving.

Past the Barn of Terror was a kids heaven. We enjoyed the barnyard treehouse, the discovery barn and princess playhouse. This was probably the busiest part of the farm. It was filled with kids running through the treehouses and down the slides.

Then it was off to the ghost town stage. Now this was a tad creepy. A clown greeted us at the entrance. The kids weren’t too sure about her lol but they were happy to go through the exhibit.

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Spoiler alert: to our relief, nothing jumped out at us while walking through the maze. Next on the list of things to do was the haunted hayride and this was by far the most fun and SO worth the wait. I remember going to Saunders when I was in high school and everyone knew that at some point on the hayride a man would run out and chase everyone with a chainsaw. Well, things have improved during the last decade lol this hayride is a lot scarier than I remember and so much fun. There must have been at least three people who ran after us at some point, yelling, zombie walking or chasing us with a chainsaw or shovel. The ride was also a lot faster than I had remembered. I was clinging on to baby girl for dear life lol and Papi had a tight grip on his grandson. I don’t want to give all of their spooky effects but let me tell you there were MANY along the way and I can totally see how this ride would be petrifying at night. I tried convincing Julien to go with me this week but after going to see It with his dad, last week, I think he has reached his limit of creepy events lol.

I spent about an hour and a half there with the kids and Mona and Paul but had to leave early for baby girl’s nap. Lucky for our son, my in-laws stayed with him and he enjoyed the rest of what the farm had to offer as well as some apple pie for lunch ;).

Overall, Saunders Farm was totally worth the visit and $20 each. It was a lot bigger than I had remembered and very organized despite the large crowds. There was a lot to do, festival food throughout and it met my expectations. I would definitely recommend bringing your kids during the day. I think a nighttime visit would be terrifying for kids my age lol but if you are looking for a good scare for yourself and your friends you should totally check it out.

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How will you be celebrating Halloween? Going to any events or parties? Did you make it out to Saunders Farm? If so, what did you think?

Hope you have a fabulous weekend and an even better Halloween.

Happy Halloween!!!

 

Fall Style Favourites!

Welcome back!

I don’t know about you but I’m a hot weather kinda gal. I love summer and I love hot weather BUT I also welcome fall and the cozy sweaters and boots that accompanies it. It’s nice to get back into your favourite baggy sweaters, ankle boots and wear fall coloured nail polish and makeup.

Last fall, when I was off on maternity leave, I picked up these beautiful knee high camel coloured boots but haven’t had a chance to wear them yet. I’m looking forward to being able to rock them soon.

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They’re the perfect colour and I love the heel. In my younger days 😉 I loved a higher heel but nowadays I welcome a medium hight heel.

I’m also looking forward to wearing some of my closed toe pumps. How cute are these navy and grey pumps from Zara. Check out the cute detail on the heel of the Navy pump. Love! I’ve come to realize that Zara is by far my favourite store. They offer the cutest styles at affordable prices. If I could, I would own everything they have.

 

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I can’t believe that I’m going to share this lol but I hadn’t been to the Rideau centre in literally almost a year and a half until recently. Two weeks ago, I decided to bus over on my lunch hour and couldn’t believe the changes. My first stop was Zara, of course, but I didn’t know that it had move. Not only that though, it’s now two floors YESSSS. I shopped the top floor first and only found a few items. I asked the girl at the cash if there was another floor and she said yep. I almost went into a frenzy when I made my way down. The store is beautiful and I wanted it all! I only have an hour at lunch so I had to shop quickly. I choose several things to try on and of course loved them all. I wish that I could report that I bought them all 😉 but I did treat myself to a few beautiful pieces. The first is this stylish light grey sweater coat:

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How cute is this coat? It’s super cozy and looks super cute over jeans and work clothes. It’s also a lovely piece for the fall since you can layer over and under it. Even better, this sweater coat was crazy affordable. Guess how much it cost? Go on…take a guess 😉 It was only $50! A total a steal right!?

I also treated myself to two new blouses which I’m in love with. I wasn’t sure if they were a little too out there but they’re FABULOUS. I wore them this week and felt great in them. The first is a floral print, long sleeved blouse with a faux velvet collar and giant bow tie. How stunning is this piece:

 

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The second top I picked up is a cream coloured classic blouse with a twist. It has ruffles down the centre, pointed shoulders, and a collar that ties into a lovely bow down the middle:

 

Overall, I was happy to have found a few pieces in the short visit I had at Zara and I’m looking forward to the next one where I will hopefully have more time to browse through what they have to offer.

What are some of your favourite styles for fall? Any fellow Zara lovers out there? If so, I’d love to hear about any recent purchases or finds that you’ve picked up and love.

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. If you’re interested in trying out a new fall recipe for a side dish please check out my new post on a new roasted carrots recipe I tried out this week.

Talk soon!

Ash

Roasted carrots!

Hey all,

Now that fall is upon us, I’ve been trying to make more fall dishes. Here’s an easy and quick side dish that I made this week to go along with our beer butt chicken. I picked up these beautiful multi-coloured carrots from our local grocery store. Talk about an inexpensive side ;).

First, I peeled the carrots and cut off their tips. Then I cut them in half and lined them up for a nice picture lol

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I usually make our roasted carrots with maple syrup because, why not, but I decided to try something different. This time I tossed my peeled and cut carrots in a bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh rosemary, garlic and salt and pepper. Warning: the aroma from simply tossing these few ingredients together is awesome!

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I then lined them up on my silpat lined baking sheet and roasted them in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. The end result was fabulous!

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These guys were so flavourful, even the kids enjoyed them. Ok, they may not have loved them 😉 but our son ate a few so that was a small parent win especially since getting him to eat a vegetable other than avocado, potatoes or soups with vegetables seems like an impossible task.

So, if you’re looking to try something new with your carrots why don’t you give this recipe a try and please let me know what you think. It’s quick, easy and super delicious.

What kinds of fall sides have you been making lately?

Talk soon,

Ash

A Stranger in the House – Book Review

For those who have read Shari Lapena’s book The Couple Next Door and loved it, you will equally enjoy this page-turning thriller. I have to start by saying that I absolutely loved this book!

A Stranger in the House grabs your attention from page one and doesn’t let it go until the end. In fact, once I was done reading this book I wanted more. I literally didn’t want to put the book down and looked forward to reading it on my bus ride to and from work every day. The book begins with a terrified woman, Karen Krupp, running out of an abandoned restaurant, located in a rough neighborhood in upstate New York. Next thing you know, she is driving through the streets like a maniac, runs a curb and drives into a utility pool. When she finally awakens, she has no idea what happened. She’s in the hospital and can’t remember anything from the night before.

That same night, her husband Tom Krupp returns home to see that his wife isn’t there. Her car isn’t in her usual spot in the driveway, the front door is unlocked, it’s obvious that she had started preparing dinner and she didn’t leave a note. She appeared to have gone somewhere urgently. Of course, he found this odd and after waiting a while for her to return, he called 911. Then, to his surprise, the police knock on his door and explain to him that his wife has been in a car accident. They inform him that Karen had been driving recklessly and crashed into a pole. Tom can’t believe this. His wife is extremely cautious and had no reason to be driving home from that part of town. He is certain that the woman the police want him to ID isn’t his wife but, to his surprise, she is.

Once discharged from the hospital, Karen returns home and her memory hasn’t returned. This seems convenient to the cops and frustrates both Karen and her husband. Soon after, the cops inform them that a man’s body was found at a restaurant in the same area of town Karen was running from and that a pair of pink rubber gloves were found at the scene. After seeing a picture of the gloves, both Karen and Tom know that they are hers. Tom realizes that his wife may be keeping something from him and Karen doesn’t believe that she could be capable of killing anyone.

As the police continue to investigate the murder, more and more evidence linking Karen to the murder scene starts to pile up and Tom starts to doubt whether or not he really knows Karen after all. When they met, she told him that her parents had passed, that she had no siblings and didn’t really keep in touch with her old friends. Although he found this odd, he believed her. The only real friend Karen had was their neighbor Brigid Cruikshank. A married woman who lives across the street from the Krupps and, although Karen doesn’t know it, has a sick obsession with watching over their house and lives. Unfortunately, Brigid and her husband have been having difficulties conceiving and this had taken a toll on their marriage. Brigid is a stay at home wife and spends most of her time at home, alone, watching over the Krupps. CREEPY!!!!

Once Karen has returned home from the hospital, she realizes that things are being misplaced in their home. Someone has been entering their house and moving things around. A glass was left out, someone had been laying in their bed, and the top of her perfume bottle wasn’t placed back on properly. I started to wonder if she was losing it or if someone had really been in their home? Tom believes that she is tired and simply isn’t remembering things properly.

During her recovery period, the police are relentless. They believe that Karen is responsible for the murder and keep digging. They interview the neighbors, Brigid and the Krupps numerous times but can’t find enough evidence to charge her. While they continue on with their investigation, Brigid continues to watch over the Krupps and we eventually learn that Brigid sees Karen’s accident and her link to the murder as an opportunity! An opportunity to steal what was once hers. Her best friend’s husband. Little did Karen know, Tom and Brigid dated before she met Tom and Brigid was obsessed with him. They had had an affair and she never wanted it to end. She sees the murder as a prime opportunity to put Karen behind bars for good and to have Tom all to herself (What!!!! I couldn’t believe this).

Tom is ready to do anything and everything to keep his wife from going to jail and Karen wishes that she could remember anything from that dreadful night. Anything that will help her get out of this sticky situation…

Believe it or not, the book has a couple more twists and “WHATTT” moments so I don’t want to spoil them for you. I know that I gave away the ending in my previous book review on The Woman in Cabin 10 but this one is too good to give away. I rather you read it and let me know what you think :). I promise you, it is well worth the read!

Overall, I give this book an 8.5/10. Why not a 10, well although I absolutely LOVED this book and found the ending to be satisfying I wanted more. I wanted to know more about what the future held for each of the characters. Perhaps the author, Shari Lapena, ended the book the way she did because she plans on writing a sequel? Who knows. Time will tell 😉 If she does, I will definitely buy it.

What have you read lately? I’d love to know! I’m in search of my next read and could use some recommendations.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday and an even better weekend!

Ash

With fall comes fall sides!!!

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I thought I’d share a couple of my favourite fall side recipes that we’ve made lately. They are quick, easy and super tasty.

The first recipe is sweet potato puree with maple syrup. I’m sure many of you have already made this recipe but for those who haven’t you should definitely try it out. Especially if you aren’t a fan of sweet potatoes. This recipe might change your mind about them.

I have to say that I’m bad with measurements. I kind of wing it when it comes to cooking but I will do my best to provide you with some direction. I made this sweet potatoe recipe tonight and our daughter loved them. Our son doesn’t seem to enjoy any veggies at this moment (I’m sure you parents out there with toddlers can understand ;)) but he tried them so I was happy about that.

So here’s the recipe for my Maple Syrup Sweet Potato Puree:

Peel and chop 1-2 sweet potatoes (tonight I used one big one). Add them to boiling water and cook until they are soft so for about 10-15 minutes. Once you can easily pierce a knife through the potatoes, strain them and mash with butter (1-2tbs depending on how many you’re making), approximately 1/3 cup of milk and 2 tbs of maple syrup because why not 🙂 Mash and add milk until you achieve the consistency that you like. Oh and don’t forget to add lots of pepper and some salt.

 

The second recipe I would like to share is maple syrup roasted Brussel sprouts. As you can tell, I have a thing for maple! We go through bottles of the stuff. It’s not only great for breakfasts foods but delicious in marinades and sides.

We recently picked up a beautiful bunch of Brussel sprouts from a local market. As a kid, I used to hate Brussel sprouts. My mom has always loved them and like other foods, these have grown on me and I really enjoy them now.

So here’s my “recipe” for the Maple Syrup Brussel sprouts:

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and wash the Brussel Sprouts and cut off the ends. Dry them off and toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You want to use enough oil that they are coated but not drowning it in. Then toss with as much maple as you like 🙂 Drizzle a little at a time, toss and gage whether you have enough by looking at them. Again, you don’t want them to drown in the syrup. Once tossed, place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are cooked and dig in!

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What are some of your favourite fall recipes/dishes? I’d love to hear about them.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

Bon appetit!

xo

Let the fall fun begin!

Hey all!

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week so far and that you have some lovely plans for the long weekend ahead. Although the weather has been less fall like than usual, fall is upon us and we’ve been enjoying it so far. I was having a tough time deciding what I wanted to focus this week’s blog post on so decided to share two posts. This post is about our recent visit to the Carp Fair and in my second post, I’ve shared a couple of my favourite fall recipes so please do check it out!

Two weeks ago, I took the kids to the Carp Fair with Moonana and Auntie. Have you heard of it? If so, have you been? If not, it’s a must. The fair offers fun rides, activities, and tasty junk food. They even have a beer tent, so there’s something for everyone 😉 Last year was our first time going. I had never been interested in going, before having the kids, but I’m happy that we ended up trying it out because it is the perfect activity for young families and it’s the perfect size and conducive to little ones.

We went on a Saturday and it ended up being crazy hot. Well over 30 degreed by 10am so we only stayed for a couple of hours but managed to do several fun things. One of the coolest parts for me was watching how excited our son was when he saw the rides but also how happy he was to have his Auntie home and with him. She recently moved home from Vancouver, after being away for two years, and we are all so grateful to have her back with us. I was so pumped to go on the rides with him but he wasn’t interested in going on them with me lol he wanted his Auntie to go with him. Lucky for me though, I did manage to squeeze a ride in. As you can see, he was so excited he was dragging me towards the ride lol

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Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to take many pictures because we were too busy enjoying ourselves but we did take a few of his favourite animals and rides.

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To my surprise, the Looney Lagoon was by far our son’s favourite ride! While we were waiting in line there were two boys, around his age, crying bloody murder the entire time they were on the ride. I pointed them out, while we were waiting in line, and explained that although he made the height requirement for the ride he might find it scary but he didn’t care. He had his mind set on giving it a try and the kids crying nor the speed of the Looney Lagoon roller coaster was going to hold him back from trying this one out. Once he and auntie got on I started to panic lol I was so worried that I had made a big mistake letting him on but he surprised me. Once the ride got going, he held on tight and had his eyes closed most of the time but he loved it. Once it was over, we could hear him yelling “again, again.” Turns out he loves the fast rides. Perfect for his papa ;).

As for baby girl, she wasn’t able to enjoy the rides but she had fun watching her big brother enjoy himself and hanging out with her Moonana.

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Overall, the Carp Fair was worth the trip. The kids, Moonana, Auntie and I all enjoyed ourselves and everyone enjoyed their afternoon naps which is always a good sign 😉 To those who haven’t been and who are looking for something fun to do with their families next fall you should totally check it out.

What are some of your favourite fall activities to do in Ottawa? I’d love to hear about them.

Hope everyone has a safe and fun Thanksgiving weekend and don’t forget to check out my new fall recipes post that I’ve shared today as well.

Talk soon,

Ash

 

 

Gluten or no gluten? That is the question!

Hey everyone,

Where has this week gone? I can’t believe that it’s already been a week since my last post. I’ve decided to focus this week’s post on a health-related topic that has been affecting me for over three years.Why are gluten intolerances/allergies so difficult to diagnose? For those of you who are reading this and are on a gluten-free diet by choice or because you’re celiac or have an intolerance, I would love to hear from you.

After our son was born, I started to have all these new symptoms. Stomach bloating, intense cramping, headaches and brain fog. All of which I of course associated with being a new mom. The stomach pain and bloating became so bad at one point that I decided to try gluten-free for several months. I can’t remember how long I was off but I do remember was that it was one difficult to do and two that I did feel better on this diet after a few months. What I found most difficult was inconveniencing our family and friends with my diet restrictions. I felt guilty especially since I hadn’t been diagnosed with anything. Months after going gluten-free, I became pregnant with our daughter and of course, I threw that diet out the window. It took everything in me not to throw up in the morning (too much info lol sorry ;)) and nothing satisfied me, during my first trimester, like toast with Cheeze Whiz. Yes, you read that right. Cheeze Whiz lol I NEVER eat that crap but I can tell ya I ate jars of it while I was pregnant with baby girl.

So, the gluten-free diet was thrown to the curb once I became pregnant. I did experience crazy bloating and stomach pains but I was so miserable that I didn’t care if the gluten was adding to it since I found it satisfying. Unfortunately though, six weeks after baby girl was born I woke up with the most unbearable pain that came in waves. I like to think that I have a high pain tolerance. I had two fast natural births and the stomach pain I was experiencing was comparable. I absolutely couldn’t bear it and had to call my mom in the middle of the night to drive baby girl and I to the emergency so that Julien could stay home with our son. The pain was so bad I that spent the night in the fetal position except for when I had to feed baby girl and when they ran their tests. The results came back that I had inflammation in my small bowel and elsewhere and that I should follow up with a GI doctor.

Months later, I asked my doctor to refer me to a GI doctor and I’m happy she did. Once he received my referral he scheduled a colonoscopy right away even before meeting me. Have you had a colonoscopy? Having one hadn’t even crossed my mind but I wasn’t worried about it. How bad could it be? They put you under and it’s a fast procedure lol I have to say that the actual procedure is easy. I remember them putting me out, waking up for a VERY brief moment saying that I was in pain and then I was out cold. Following the procedure, I had no pain BUT did I ever feel sick. The fasting process for the colonoscopy was INSANE. I had to start preparing for it three days in advance. This may not seem like a big deal for some but I found it brutal lol The third and second day prior to, I could only eat bland, white foods. I basically ate white rice and steamed veggies for two days YUCK and then I was on a fluids ONLY diet for the last day. This diet was by far the hardest part of the process. Following the colonoscopy, I spent the rest of the day in bed sick and didn’t feel like myself for at least two days afterward. Who knew!? For those of you who have had one, what was your experience like?

My colonoscopy results came in a couple of weeks later. They found the same inflammation and noted that the biopsies came back that I was gluten intolerant. As a result, they recommended that I have an endoscopy to rule out Celiac disease…. Seriously? I have to go under again!? Good news is that the endoscopy was super easy to prepare for and it didn’t make me feel unwell afterward.

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Luckily for me, the endoscopy results came in quickly and I was able to meet with my doctor two weeks after the procedure. It turns out that I may be partially Celia or have early Crohns. My doctor highly recommended that I start a gluten-free diet. He noted that it is very difficult to diagnose one or the other but that the results of the tests and biopsies suggest that it could be either. WHATTTTTT!!! This is so confusing. My hope was that I had nothing or that he would give me a concrete diagnosis but he couldn’t. He noted that he may be able to do so with time but in the meantime, I would greatly benefit from a gluten-free and low sugar diet. He also suggested that I take a digestive enzyme with each meal. For those of you who know me well and follow my blog and/or Instagram account regularly, you know that pizza is by far my favourite food. How will I manage going gluten-free?!

So here I am, a week later, still eating gluten and trying to figure out a game plan. After my last appointment with my doctor, I LITERALLY ate pizza that night and the two nights afterward. I ate so much pizza last week that I don’t feel like eating it tomorrow night (Friday night) which is unheard of lol

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This week was a very busy one for me, therefore, I wasn’t able to focus on educating myself about a gluten-free diet nor buy the right groceries but I think I will slowly start taking it out of my diet as of next week. I have to admit that I’m a bit nervous about this process but I’m hoping that I will be able to find some awesome recipes and good gluten-free bread. I love starting my day off with a good coffee and peanut butter toast so if anyone has any favourite gluten-free bread suggestions I’d love to hear about them. Finally, for those of you who are on a gluten-free diet or those who know of great gluten-free restaurants, resources and/or products I would LOVE to hear about them so please do leave a comment.

Wish me luck with the road ahead 😉 and big props to those out there (like my sister and friend Lauren) who are already living a gluten-free lifestyle.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Talk soon!

Ash

 

Dinner at Napolis

Super exciting!!! Last Saturday, my parents watched the kids overnight allowing Julien and I to go out for dinner with our friends AND sleep in Sunday morning. Sleeping in and not having to rush out of bed as soon as your eyes open is such a luxury nowadays. It’s like winning the lottery lol Since our daughter was born we’ve had three overnights to ourselves and I swear I am giddy about it each and every time. Of course, I miss the kids like crazy but it’s so nice being able to wake up, lay in bed for 45 mins, drink a hot coffee quietly and start the day slowly.

This time we were invited with friends to go to dinner at Napolis cafe in Stittsville. I hadn’t been in about six years and didn’t know what to expect but I knew that it would be good. Before leaving for the restaurant, we opened an awesome bottle of Graham Beck bubbly with our friends George and Chelsea, at our place, and enjoyed it out back in the sun. I know we didn’t have the greatest weather this summer but the weather this fall is exceptional! After finishing our bubbly, we left for the restaurant.

Once we entered Napolis, the Manager, Basil, welcomed us and brought us to our table for the evening. He set us up beautifully outdoors on his patio. We had a beautiful long table, with a firepit, and were surrounded by vines with grapes and tomatoes plants. As we walked towards our table, I noticed that he already had a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne chilling. AMAZING. Once we sat down, he poured us a perfectly chilled glass of champagne. Enjoying that first glass was the BEST way to kick-start our evening. For those of you who have read all of my posts, you know that my favourite drinks are champagne and bubbly. There’s nothing better…Ok, I also enjoy a good rum and coke with LOTS of lime but we are getting off topic here lol 😉

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While drinking our first glass, our friends Nika and Quinton arrived and the six of us caught up over a variety of appetizers. We ordered their garlic and cheese bread, beef carpaccio, mussels and escargots. I eat pretty much everything except for yogurt, mussels and escargots so I, unfortunately, cannot provide you with comments on them (although the group seemed to love them) but the garlic bread and carpaccio were insane!

Following our appetizers we had our mains. Anyone that is looking to enjoy rich home cooked style Italian food you have to eat here. These dishes were incredible and the portions were huge. I ordered the Pollo Penne and OMG it was delicious!!! It was a pasta dish with chicken breast in a rosemary sauce with white wine, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms.

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Some of the other meals ordered were veal parmesan, chicken parmesan, lamb, fettucini etc. Below are a few pictures of some of the dishes that we enjoyed.

Of course, our main courses were enjoyed with a couple bottles of fabulous red wine. The first was an Amarone and the second a Borolo from their cellars list of fabulous wines. #yum!!!

Overall, this was yet another successful night out spent with our fabulous friends over good food, champagne and wines. We enjoyed the entire evening outside and met the chef (who happened to be Basil’s brother) at the end of the night. Turns out the restaurant is a family affair and the owner’s daughters work there as well. The setting, food and drinks were all delicious and I have to say that this meal satisfied my craving for some good old rich Italian food. If you’re looking to satisfy a similar craving, I definitely recommend the food at Napolis. Finally, the owner, chef and staff were fabulous and made the evening exceptional so a big shoutout to them!

What’s your favourite Italian restaurant? Have you been to Napolis? If so, what are your favourite dishes?

Talk soon.

Ciao,

Ash

Working out – pre and post kids

Hey guys!

I decided to dedicate this week’s post to something I’ve been missing lately. Working out and, more specifically, how it has changed for me since having kids. You know what I am saying mom’s…your pre-kids workout just can’t be maintained the same way after having a couple of kids and working full time. Props to those who have been able to maintain a regular workout though. I hope to get there one day but for now, this just isn’t the case.

Working out pre-kids:

Before having out kids I used to workout like it was my job. I absolutely loved running. Nothing in the world felt better than lacing up my shoes and heading out for a long run on my own. I had all the time in the world to run 5-7 days a week and didn’t have to worry about whether or not exercising would compromise time spent showering, cooking for the family, doing groceries or just sitting down for a few moments.

Before kids I could work out anytime of the day. Morning, afternoon, evening which ever time best suited me that day. Sometimes I’d meet up with friends for body pump and then stay for and extra class just because we could. Nowadays, if I want to work it its usually during nap time which means I won’t be resting or preparing things for after naps. I’m also now a big fan of the 30-45 minute workouts. An hour seems like such a commitment.

Another thing about pre-kids exercise is that nothing really hurt. I could run for days and my body didn’t notice. Oh, how times have changed. If I manage to schedule a run in, once every couple of months, everything hurts. My knees, pelvis etc it’s as though my body is in shock. This never used to happen.

Working out post kids

Working our post kids is like winning the lottery! If I can squeeze in a 25 minute workout session using the Nike app in my basement it’s a parent win DING DING DING!!! After my son, I was able to resume a pretty good workout routine during my mat leave. I ran everywhere with him. To the grocery store, along the trans can and he just slept along the way like an angel. Of course, this was botched when I went back to working full time and then again when I became pregnant with our daughter and I was trying to just get through my days. I had no idea pregnancy would be so different/difficult the second time around. Pregnancy #2 was just AWFUL ALL OF THE TIME and I swear that everything below my neck hurt. Anyway, this isn’t about my pregnancies 😉 plus she was of course worth all of the pain but after having our daughter it took me a good 6-7 months to get my butt back to the gym and, when I did, I was doing low impact exercises. It turns out, for me anyway, that your body changes significantly after having a couple kids 😉 and things hurt more easily. Actually, I’m not sure if it is the kids or the fact than I am in my thirties but either way my body seems to need a hell of a lot more stretching and tender love and care.

Before kids, I used to love high impact cardio. Body attack, shred, intervals etc it was my thing. Since having had our daughter though those days are gone lol Well, for now at least 😉 I just can’t do them like I used to and to be honest I don’t enjoy them the same way either. Other mom’s keep telling me that I will get back into it one day and you know what they are probably right but for now I’m ok with getting my exercise in other ways.

Life with two kids is WONDERFUL and I’m beyond grateful and thankful for my babes 🙂 but man is it ever busy! Also, following mom’s diagnosis, I felt as though my days were so busy with the kids and wrapping my head around her diagnosis that I needed to slow things down and digest our new reality.

As previously mentioned in my post on our family trip to Florida in April, it was yoga that really saved me and rekindled my love for working out since it allowed me to relax and provided my body with such an amazing stretch.

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Note: I’m the one with the orange top on the left sitting at the back of the groups 😉

I realized at this time that I wasn’t enjoying running or high-intensity cardio because it felt like yet another task that I had to add to my daily to do list. What I really needed was to slow down, stretch, strengthen and meditate. Yoga brought me a kind of relaxation that I’ve never experienced. My mom will be happy to hear this. She’s been telling me to do yoga and meditate for years. Once again, “you were right mom” 😉 I’d also like to send out a big thank you to my yoga instructor at goodlife fitness who also inspired me to love yoga and who literally brought tears to my eyes during our meditation sessions. Nothing makes me feel more relaxed and vulnerable than your classes. Namaste to you!

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Now that I am back to work, my workout schedule has changed once again but I’m hoping that I will eventually be able to squeeze in a couple yoga sessions a week once we get into the swing of things. More importantly though, I make sure that my family and I get out and enjoy all that the outdoors has to offer, especially the fresh air. For now, our workouts include family bike rides, park play, walks and chasing after kids anywhere and everywhere they go. You know what I mean mama’s 😉 spending a day chasing two kids around is exercise in itself!

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Finally, I don’t think that its fair to think that I will never run again or enjoy high-intensity cardio but for now, my workout regime has changed and I’m ok with that. We should all workout in whatever way makes us happy and most importantly healthy.

Whether or not you have kids I would love to hear about your workout regime. What do you like to do for exercise? What do you recommend that I try? If you do have kids, has your workout regime changed since having them? If so, how?

Looking forward to hearing from you! Hope you have a fabulous weekend filled with much fun and fresh air.

Ciao,

Ash

 

The woman in cabin 10 – Book review

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The woman in cabin 10, a mystifying treat for those who enjoy a good psychological thriller mixed with adventure and a slice of anxiety. This book has many of the features that I look for in a fictional read including mystery and adventure along with luxury and elegance. The book’s author, Ruth Ware, grasps our attention from the gecko when the main character Lo Blacklock, a writer for a high-end travel magazine called Velocity, is awakened to noises in her home. After a few moments, she realizes that there’s an intruder. I think that a break and enter is something that we all fear which is why this invasion of privacy, in the middle of the night, caught my attention. Lucky for Lo, she lives to tell this story but it’s from then onward that things really start to go south for her.

Following the invasion and her strange reaction to the event including her reluctance to tell the police, her boyfriend, family and work, Lo is offered a work opportunity to board a small luxury cruise ship heading for Scandinavia to see the Scandinavian fjords. The cruise ship offers 10 cabins, the finest meals, spa treatments and the best views that the fjords have to offer. Lo doesn’t want to pass up on this opportunity, especially since it was only offered to her because her colleague was on maternity leave. Knowing that this would be a trip of a lifetime and that it may also allow her to climb up the ranks at Velocity, Lo decides to go anyway. Little did she know, her trip would begin with a murder of a beautiful young woman.

While preparing for the first evening on the ship, Lo realizes that she forgot to pack her mascara. She knocks on Cabin 10’s door and a beautiful brunette answers. Trying to get Lo to leave quickly, the brunette gives Lo her mascara and tells her to keep it. Lo finds the girl’s behavior odd but leaves it at that. While at dinner, she looks for the girl from cabin 10 but she is nowhere to be found. At the end of the night, while lying in her bed, Lo is sure that she hears a woman thrown over board. She is convinced that she heard the woman from cabin 10 scream, that she saw her body float away underwater and that there was blood splattered on the glass safety barrier of the veranda next door.

Lo reports the incident to security but they don’t seem to believe her. They know that she had been drinking heavily the night before and saw that she was taking antidepressants. According to the ship’s management cabin 10 was empty. Realizing that security wasn’t taking her concerns seriously she tries to get anyone to listen to her. Someone else had to have seen the woman in cabin 10. She goes on to interview the staff, Mr. Richard Bullmer (the ship’s owner), and other passengers but everyone is reluctant to believe her since all of the passengers are accounted for. But how could this be? Lo knows that she borrowed mascara from the woman in cabin 10 and that she saw her belongings in the room. Unfortunately for Lo though, after having reported the apparent murder, Cabin 10 had been cleaned and there was no sign of anyone having stayed there.

I have to admit that I questioned Lo’s state of mind once she boarded the trip. I wasn’t sure if she experiencing PTSD from her own home invasion (which is totally understandable), whether or not she was an alcoholic since she had been drinking a lot since the invasion, or whether or not she was totally losing it.

Despite being warned on a couple of occasions to stop investigating into what happened to the missing woman, Lo continues to push on. Not only does the mascara, the only evidence proving that the mystery woman existed, go missing from her room, she is also warned to stop looking into the murder when she awakens from her spa treatment and sees the words STOP DIGGING written in the mist on the mirror.

To make matters even more complicated Lo’s ex, Ben is also on the ship and he appears to be hiding something. After doubting his innocence, Lo begins to wonder if he could have bee involved. Could he really have it in him to commit murder? Lo doesn’t trust anyone anymore, not even Ben. Everyone on board is a suspect.

Despite being warned, Lo continues on until she is hit over after chasing after what she thought was the woman in cabin 10. A little while later, she awakens to find herself locked in a tiny space without windows, well below sea level and realizes that no matter how loudly she screamed, no one would ever hear her. She realized that she should have listened. She should have let things go. What were they going to do with her now? Who were they?

Lo spends days in this claustrophobic space, only to realize that she is being held by the ship’s owner’s lover, Carrie. A woman who had been disguising herself as his sick wife Anne, during the trip, and who was responsible for throwing Anne’s body overboard. Turns out Richard Bullmer, was waiting for his wife to die so that he could inherit her fortune. To make matters worst, Richard brainwashed Carrie into believing that he loved her and to do his dirty work. After coming to this realization, Lo decides that her only way out of this alive is to convince Carrie to let her go otherwise Richard would kill her too. She had seen too much.

After being beaten, held captive for days, barely eating and left to wonder what will happen to her she manages to convince Carrie to let her go. Carrie devises an escape plan. The girls will exchange identities and try to make it seem convincing to Richard that Lo fought Carrie and managed to escape. Carrie insists that Lo must hit her hard on the head to make it believable. Lo tries but she’s unable to get herself to do it hard enough so Carrie does it herself. She throws her head into the bed railing causing a lot of blood loss. It’s at this time that Lo realizes the severity of the situation and that this poor girl would need help. Carrie tells Lo to leave her and run quickly because Richard would be returning shortly and run she does. Although Lo feels guilty for leaving Carrie behind, locked up and bleeding in the small cabin, she knows that she has no other choice if she wants to live.

After making a dramatic escape off the ship into the cold sea and ashore into a bed and breakfast Lo quickly realizes that the owners know Mr. and Mrs. Bullmer well and that they have notified the cruise ship of her arrival. Lo has no choice but to run again. She finally ends up crawling into a barn and, to her surprise, she falls asleep for a day and a half. Lucky for her, she is found by a nice old man and his dog who manage to finally bring her home to safety.

It isn’t quite clear how she makes it home but she does and both the break and enter and her experience on the cruise ship make her realize what is most important in her life. Being with her boyfriend and moving with him to New York to pursue both of their careers.

So, what did I think? Well, I give this book a 6.5/10. Although it kept my interest and I really wanted to know if Lo was having a mental breakdown or if there was really a woman in cabin 10, I didn’t love this book. There were a few captivating events but they weren’t enough to keep my attention. I also felt that I was being rushed through the main events and that they could have been explored a bit more. I did find it interesting how Ruth Ware incorporated Lo’s anxiety throughout this book. She successfully managed to make me understand what it feels like to have an anxiety attack. Lastly, I think she did a great job describing the solitude one would feel being held captive in a small space, alone, without a clock or any idea of who was keeping you hostage. This was very scary.

For those of you who have read this, please let me know what you thought of this book and if you have any suggestions for my next read I would love to hear them.

Talk soon,

Ash