Our favourite Christmas dessert recipes!

Hi everyone,

Today, I’m going to share with you a few recipes of our favourtie Christmas desserts that we’ve been making annually for about 5 years now.

I’ll start with my favourite recipe, Martha Stewart’s Mint-Chocolate Brownies. OMG this recipe is to die for and they are a chocolate lovers dream. I don’t know what it is about Martha but all of her dessert recipes are the best!

Mint-Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

  • One stick of unsalted butter (8 tbs)
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bitter sweet chocolate, whichever you prefer
  • One cup of sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 25 small peppermint patties (these MAKE this recipe)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line your 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper and then butter the parchment paper.
  2. Place chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir for about 4-5 mins until chocolate is melted.
  3. Remove from the heat and whisk in your sugar and salt until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in eggs and then gently whisk in flour and cocoa powder until smooth.
  4. Spread 1/3 of your batter in your pan. Place peppermint patties on top of the batter in a single layer, making sure to leave a border on all sides. Note: I can never find the mini peppermint patties so I use the large ones.
  5. Top the peppermint patties with the remaining batter and smooth the surface.
  6. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Approximately 35-40 minutes.
  7. Cool the brownies completely before cutting brownies.

Yields: 16 delicious brownies

My second favourite recipe is a cookie recipe by Trisha Yearwood that I found on the Food Network’s website. WARNING: they are super sweet so this recipe is good for those who have a real sweet tooth.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate hips
  • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. Using your electric mixer, cream the butter with both sugars until smooth. Add your vanilla and egg, making sure to mix well.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking soda. Spoon the flour mixture into the creamed sugar mixture.
  4. Stir in your cranberries, white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
  5. Drop large spoonfuls, about 2 tbs, of dough on prepared baking sheets and bake one sheet at a time for 12-15 minutes.
  6. Note: we aren’t the biggest fans of macadamia nuts but they go very well in this recipe.

Yields: 24 cookies

Last, but not least, is a recipe for bark brought to you by the blog browneyedbaker. The fun thing about bark is that you can put whatever ingredients you want in them, so you should totally try modifying this recipe and using your favourite nuts or dried fruit.

 

Pistachio and Cranberry White Chocolate Bark 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2lb white chocolate
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Method:

  1. Line your baking sheet with your silpat or parchment.
  2. Melt your chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwavable bowl for 30 seconds at a time in the microwave.
  3. Once the chocolate has melted, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add pistachios and cranberries and stir to combine.
  5. Spread the chocolate mixture onto your prepared pan and place in the fridge for at least 20 mins, until set, and then cute into pieces. (Note: I prefer freezing it and then cutting/breaking the bark into pieces).

The great thing about all of these recipes is that you can freeze them and take them out when you feel like a treat or when you’re hosting. We plan on baking each of these this weekend. Make sure to stop by my Instagram account, lovelylife.xo to see pics.

If you decide to try one of these out, please let me know what you think of them by leaving a comment below. I’d also love to hear about your favourite Christmas dessert recipes, if you have any 🙂 .

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Talk soon,

Ash

Le Baccara – What a treat!

Hey guys,

Hope you’re having a great week! Can you believe that it’s December already! I don’t know about you but I’m ready and excited for the last month of the year. Along with December, comes Christmas and Christmas outings. The following is just one of many.

Last weekend, we had the pleasure of joining our friends, George and Chels for dinner at Le Baccara, a 5 diamond restaurant located in the Casino Lac-Leamy and what an experience it was. I had been to the Casino several times before but it had been at least 10 years and I definitely didn’t experience it like this. 

As soon as we pulled up, I was in awe at how beautifully decorated the hotel and lobby were for the Christmas season. The grandeur of all of the decorations and trees was breathtaking.

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We started our evening at the Bacchus bar equipped with fabulous glass tables, large leather seats and an impressive, to say the least, fireplace. It was the perfect spot to sit and catch up over a cocktail. We sipped on a bottle of Champagne and caught up on our weeks. Not a bad way to end a busy week and kick start the evening right ;).

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Next stop was dinner at Le Baccara. We walked though the casino and past this beautiful tree.

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Isn’t it breathtaking? WOW. 

The experience was fabulous from the start. As soon as we arrived, we were promptly escorted to our tables and within a matter of minutes, we were served champagne. We spent the next 45 mins sipping on it, in large comfy chairs knowing that we had a delicious meal ahead of us.

As for the meal, we enjoyed a six course meal. Each course was beautifully presented and paired with the perfect glass of wine. The service was fabulous and our sommelier, Danielle Dupont, was impeccable. She was able to describe our wines beautifully and was extremely knowledgeable which was great for Julien and George who love to ask plenty of questions about what they’re eating and drinking ;).

Our first course was by far my favourite. It was a beef carpaccio that was to die for. It was like no other. As you can see, it offered many elements, including sliced truffles. #yum

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Our second dish was a lobster tail, with tete fromagee (my apologies for the missing accents. I need to figure out how to use them on my new Chromebook).

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What I love about these dinning experiences, is that I get try foods I wouldn’t necessarily try or cook myself. Although I am not a picky eater, I enjoyed the lobster tail but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the tete fromagee (made with pigs feet). Maybe it’s an acquired taste ;)? Although it wasn’t my favourite part of the meal, I have to say that it was beautifully presented and very flavourful.

Next was a foie gras poele. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the actual foie gras lol but it’s because I was so blown away by its presentation as it arrived at the table :).

It was served with a glass of Sauterne. As you can see, Chels and I approved ;).

Next on the menu was a seared scallop with octopus. This scallop was cooked to perfection and delicious!!! Although I love scallops, I haven’t been brave enough to cook them myself. I find that there’s a fine line when cooking them. If you sear them too long, they’re chewy but if you don’t cook them enough they’re slimy. As for the octopus, it looked beautiful but I wasn’t a fan. Perhaps it too will grow on me ;).

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Second to last was pheasant with a potato puree and a baked apple stuffed with raisins. This dish was my second favourite. I had never had pheasant before and it was delicious. I highly recommend it for those who haven’t yet tried it. The veggies and potato puree were lovely but the stuffed apple offered a unique touch. It was sweet, almost like a dessert, and paired beautifully with the pheasant. Original and super tasty.

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Last, but not least, was dessert. By then, we were full and I forgot to take a picture. Yep, I’m totally regretting having not taken a picture but I’ve learned from my mistake 😉 and won’t forget next time we’re out. It was a baked apple served on top of a homemade cookie. 

Overall, this evening was spectacular from start until finish. Le Baccara is definitely worth the 5 starts that it’s earned and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to celebrate an important milestone such as a birthday or anniversary. On top of all of this, they were very understanding of my gluten allergy and ensured that each of my dishes were GF. Merci Le Baccara!

For those who have been to Le Baccara, what did you think of this restaurant and what was your favourite dish? 

That’s all for now! Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

Talk soon xo

“Winter is coming” – Are you ready?

Hey guys,

November has arrived, along with its cooler weather, brrr! Are you ready for winter? Lucky for me, having little ones means that I have to get my butt in gear and make sure that they are well dressed for the cooler weather but, like most parents, that doesn’t mean that I’m ready.

After wearing the same Tommy Hilfiger jacket for 7 years, and through two pregnancies, I finally decided to splurge and buy myself a new coat. Afterall, I’m going to Banff next month and “need” a new coat to keep warm 😉 The only thing is that I didn’t have the time to endlessly browse through the malls to find the perfect jacket, until this week… For those who follow my Instagram account, lovelylifexo, you already know about this but, for those who don’t, Julien and I were supposed to go to Le Nordik Monday but weren’t able to because it was packed. Rather than spending the day at the spa doing nothing but relaxing, we ended up doing some Christmas shopping and Julien convinced me to look around for a winter jacket and, of course, we found one.

We stopped at Bayshore to check out what they had to offer. Don’t you find that shopping for a practical winter jacket is like jean shopping? The shopping experience can be long and painful but once you find the right pair or coat it’s unbelievably satisfying. Especially when your husband is the one encouraging you to make the purchase 😉 thanks babe.

Our first stop was the Bay. Do you know how many jackets they have there? Tons but most of them were the same style and not what I was looking for. Like most purchases, I was trying to find something a little different and unique. Our next stop was the Coat co, Reitmans and, of course, my favourite store Zara but none offered an affordable, warm and stylish coat. It wasn’t until we went to Aritzia that I found “the one.”

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I was hoping to buy a maroon coloured jacket and managed to find one. I know that Aritzia’s winter jackets are super popular but I had never tried them on. Until this year 😉 Exciting news is that they are offering new styles and they are fabulous!!!

After trying on a few, I ended up buying the Babton Harrison parka brought to you by Aritzia! How fabulous is this jacket :)!? It provides warmth until minus 30 and literally feels like you’re wearing a duvet when you put this jacket on.

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It’s the details that make this jacket amazing:

  • It’s 100% responsibly sourced goose down;
  • It’s made of both water and windproof exterior fabric;
  • It has a real faux fur hood lining and trim and is made of luxe vegan fur with an authentic look and feel; and
  • The pockets are fleece-lined and so warm and cozy.

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The only con I see with this jacket is that it is almost too warm. I haven’t been able to wear it yet but I look forward to doing so during our trip to Banff next month. I think it will be perfect for the wintery occasion. An added bonus is that this jacket is stunning and is offered in both black and maroon.

So, if you are looking for a new winter jacket I suggest you stop by Aritzia to see what they have to offer this year. They have their traditional style but a few new ones as well. The only thing I have left to buy are some new and warm gloves. If you have any suggestions on where I can find some, please let me know.

For those who live in Ottawa, I hope that you’re ready for winter since it’s supposed to feel like minus 10 Friday morning and we’re supposed to get snow over the weekend. Stay warm!!!

Talk soon,

Ash xo

 

 

 

BRCA 2 Positive – Now what?

Hey everyone,

Today’s post is more serious than the others. As most of you know, the motivation behind this blog is my amazing mom and being able to connect with others who may be going through a similar situation. In addition to this, my goal is to encourage everyone to focus on the positive things in life. We all encounter difficult times throughout our lives and, although we may not want to, we have to find ways to accept them. I have SO much to be thankful and grateful for in my life and I owe a lot of it to my mom.

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Mother and daughter xo

So, let’s get to it. As many of you know, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer in February of this year. Since, she has undergone major debulking surgery, recovery, and chemo. Since her last chemo session late spring, she had an amazing and healthy 4 months chemo free AND at her last oncologist appointment, last month, we found out that her cancer is currently dormant. I’m not religious but I thank whatever power is out there watching over her and our family! Her CA125 cancer markers (the marker used to measure ovarian cancer) haven’t increased and remain well under the normal range. This news couldn’t have been better. I can’t describe how it feels to wait for these appointments. Not knowing what the results will be. The anxiety I feel waiting for the news can be awful but we are SO grateful that the news was positive and that her body and cancer responded well to the chemo they gave her 🙂 !!!

When mom was diagnosed in February, we were told that because she had had breast cancer 10 years ago and now ovarian cancer that she could be tested for the BRCA genetic mutation if she wished and free of charge. Testing for this is very expensive therefore it isn’t available to everyone, especially since only 1.2 percent of Canadian women are at risk of getting ovarian cancer and an even smaller percentage of those carry a BRCA genetic mutations.

Do you know what this genetic mutation is? If not, I will explain but maybe you will remember the (what some call) radical surgery Angelina Jolie had after finding out that her mom, who passed away from ovarian cancer, carried this genetic mutation. Angelina decided to have a double mastectomy in response to finding out that her mom carried the BRCA 1 gene. Why, you may ask, well because those who do carry a BRCA 1 or 2 genetic mutation have an increased risk of getting both breast and ovarian cancer.

Being the mother of two daughters, my mom decided to follow-through with the genetic testing. We were told that it would take 3 months but it ended up being close to 6. Last Friday, we had her follow-up appointment. I can’t begin to tell you how nervous I was for this appointment. I knew that there was a small chance that she would carry it and, that if that was the case, my sister and I would have some decisions to make but it wasn’t until her genetics doctor actually said the words “you ARE BRCA2 positive” that everything really hit me. I knew this was a real possibility but until it was actually confirmed, I guess I was hoping otherwise. I understandably burst into tears. Mom, however, felt a sense of relief. Now, she knew that her girls would be tested annually (MRI and mammogram) and that we would be provided with surgical options if we wanted to embark on those journeys. She is the most selfless person I know. Always thinking about us before herself.

What do these results mean for mom:

  • The not so great news is that she is 85% likely to have breast cancer. The good news is that now that they know this, they will continue to monitor her annually which is relieving.
  • Other good news is that because she has a BRCA 2 genetic mutation, they are able to offer her additional treatments for her cancer if it awakens. This news couldn’t have made us happier :).
  • Lastly, the results gave mom a sense of relief knowing that she didn’t just have bad luck. Rather, her cancers were/are the result of a genetic mutation.

What do these results mean for my sister and I:

Well, mom’s results mean that we have a 50% chance of carrying the BRCA2 genetic mutation. As a result, we have the choice of being tested ourselves, free of charge. To some, I’m sure that this would be a difficult decision. For myself, it’s a no brainer since messing with ovarian cancer is no joke. I’ve decided to go ahead with the testing, which involves simple blood work, and it will take between 1-2 months for my results.

So what does it mean if the results come back positive for my sister or I? Well, it means that we will have a 50-85% chance of having breast cancer and 10-30% chance of getting ovarian cancer (compared to the general population’s percentage which is 1.2%). Also, we will have the choice of undergoing a double mastectomy and partial or total hysterectomy now or just prior to menopause (which is what is recommended).

Although scary, all of the above is positive news for my sister and I. It means that we will have options and I’m so thankful for that and being able to tackle this decision well informed. I, like Angelina, am approaching this more aggressively. If my results come back positive, I am choosing to undergo a double mastectomy and reconstruction as soon as possible and a hysterectomy well before menopause. Saying I was going to do this, prior to mom’s results, was one thing, but knowing that this may be a real possibility now makes everything more real. But, if my mom was able to fight and beat breast cancer in 2006 and undergo everything she encountered this year, then I can do this. I owe it to myself and my children who will also have a 50% chance of carrying this genetic mutation if I do. Even our son.

Moving forward, I will keep you guys posted on the results and what happens next. For those of you who out there who are living through a similar situation, know that you are not alone. That you are strong and loved and that no matter what we will get through this. Life is a gift and sometimes we are dealt unexpected cards but we have to be grateful for all that is good in life and enjoy every moment to the fullest.

Today, and every day I am grateful for my amazing life. For my husband and kids. My sister, friends and my mom who made the person that I am today.

 

What are you grateful for? 🙂

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Sending  positive energy and love out to everyone xox

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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