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

Baby girl’s 1st Birthday

This weekend we celebrated our daughters first birthday. Like most moms, I can’t believe that a year has already gone by. It feels like yesterday that we brought her home and were trying to navigate our new life as a family of four. Julien, we made it 😉 thank you for being the incredible Papa and husband that you are. Below, is a picture of her shortly after she was born.

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Unlike our son’s first birthday, we decided to have a small get together with just our family. We will throw her a bigger bash for her second birthday.

We celebrated at my in-laws home on the river. It is such a fun place for both ourselves and the kids. They have a beautiful view of the river and the kids love spending hours playing in the water and hunting for frogs. It’s also a playground for adults as they have a hot tub, hammocks, beautiful gardens, decks and Adirondack chairs.

Lucky for us, my sister flew home the morning of the party, from out West, to spend a couple of weeks with mom and the family. As you can imagine, the kids were beyond excited to see her especially our son who really misses her. We are a super close family and she used to stop by our place 3-4 times a week before she moved when he was one and a half years old. He adores and misses her so much when she is gone so it was so nice to have her with us to celebrate her niece.

My parents and sister arrived for our daughter’s party at noon. It was an emotional reunion as we hadn’t seen my sister since mom’s debulking surgery in February. Being apart has always felt wrong so it was so nice to just have her home. This time it is particularly wonderful since mom is feeling more and more like herself and has the next 3 months chemo free.

We had an awesome time celebrating baby girl. We dressed her up in an adorable dress I found at the Children’s place for $10 (parent win ;)). She also wore some adorable black shoes, given to her by our friends, and a necklace that was gifted to her by family friends when she was born.

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Once everyone had arrived, we sipped on some celebratory cocktails, rose bubbly of course, cheersed to having survived the last year with two kids 😉 and then opened gifts. The kids both nap in the afternoons so we decided to do presents and cake before they went down. To those moms out there who had a son first and daughter second, I am sure you’ll understand this next piece. Prior to her birthday, our daughter didn’t really have any girly toys. She had a few stuffed toys and books but not much else. We have an abundance of toys, most of which our son never plays with so there wasn’t really a need to buy any for our daughter. Until now…She is no longer a little baby anymore so when people asked what they could buy her we practically begged them to buy something girly lol Something other than trucks. All she knows are trucks (vroom vroom) and cars. She absolutely loves them but a girl has to have some variety, right?! And variety is what she got. She was spoiled with the cutest girly toys.

  • Moonana (my mom) bought her a black doll which came with her own bassinet, bottle, sippy cup, change of clothes and purse. SO cute;
  • Papa G bought her a leap frog dancing mat which I know she will love since she already moves to any and all beats she hears;
  • Auntie bought her a high chair so that baby girl can feed her black doll;
  • And Mimi and Papi bought her a lovely doll which came with a beautiful pink dress, a change of clothes and a tea pot set that our daughter fell in love with while we were in Florida in May.

Overall, our baby girl was truly spoiled. A big thank you to all of our loved ones for the beautiful gifts. She loves them.

Next was cake. I don’t think I have shared this with you guys yet but my father-in-law makes the worlds best cakes. OMG. They not only taste fabulous but they are always beautifully decorated. He made baby girl a pink and white three tiered almond flavoured cake decorated with whipped cream and pink, white and silver decorations. It couldn’t have been more perfect. I’m super girly as well so I was very excited by it and the perfect shade of pink that he achieved.

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The birthday girl also agreed that the cake was a complete success. It was evident as soon as she dove into it with big eyes and without hesitation. Once she tasted her first bite there was no going back. She grabbed her slice with both hands and went for it lol. Can’t blame her though. It was her first taste of cake and it was one of Papi’s so we knew she would love it.

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After two hours of playing, opening gifts and filling up on sugar the kids we ready for nap time. They both went down without hesitation and gave the rest of us a couple of hours to enjoy the property and river. My mom, sister and I took this opportunity to head out for a kayak ride. This mother daughter time was greatly appreciated and so much fun. We don’t get to spend time just the three of us so it was nice to head out on the water, laugh and of course race back since we all have a competitive edge.

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The kids woke up shortly after we returned so I took my son out for a swim in the river. It was just what we needed after an hour of kayaking and following a cozy nap. The water wasn’t too cold and the air was so hot so there was no shock effect when we got out. By this time it was 5pm so we said goodbye to my parents and sister, packed up our things and left my in-laws in time for dinner and bedtime at our place.

I ended this weekend exploding with gratitude. I am thankful for our beautiful and healthy kids and for our family and for being able to share these moments with them. Also grateful that my mom is feeling like herself again and that we are having so much fun together!

How did you celebrate your son or daughters first birthday?

Talk soon,

Ash xo

 

MosaiCanada 150

Have you heard of MosaiCanada? If not, it is an absolute must visit for those living in or visiting Gatineau or Ottawa this summer. It is one of the many events celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary. It’s a breathtaking horticultural event like no other and perfect for adults and kids alike.

We took the kids last weekend and had such a magical time. We spent about an hour going through the exhibition and were blown away by the beauty and magnitude of the horticultural creations.

When you first enter the Jacques Cartier park you see a beautiful steam train. Our son was in awe and thought that it was real. Can’t blame him though. Check out the picture below. Isn’t it stunning?

IMG_20170723_120931.jpgContinuing along we saw a fisherman, horses, and a giant bear. The horses were incredible. It looked like they were literally running up and out of the ground.

Each piece was carefully crafted and made of the most beautiful flowers with vibrant colours. I can only imagine how much time it took to not only plan but assemble these structures. Other favourites were the gold miner and dragons.

Half-way through the event, we came across a cute spot for lunch. Turns out that it was the oldest house in Gatineau and they set it up as a restaurant for park visitors. They didn’t offer extraordinary food but our meal was satisfying. We had their pre-made sandwiches and ate them on their balcony out back over-looking the river and the Parliament buildings.

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After a few runs up and down the hill, behind our son, we continued on throughout the last part of the park. The last two structures left our kids in awe. The second last structure looked just like the girl from Moana. The kids loved this one and insisted on taking pictures with her. It was so hard to keep our son from running past the fence and right up to the structure. As you can see in the picture below, she was surrounded by beautiful deer and had a waterfall pouring out and over her palm. Words cannot express how breathtaking it was. The last structure was the end and side of the train we first saw when we entered the park.

Overall, we loved this event. It was a fun outing for the family and didn’t take much time. We were able to go through it after morning naps and make it back home on time for afternoon naps.  Like they say, this was a parent win ;). Lastly, the event was free and who doesn’t like a freebie.

For those of you who haven’t been, I highly recommend that you do before it is too late and for those who have been, I would love to know which structure(s) were your favourite.

Talk soon,

Ash xo

Birthdays and dinner parties

Saturday night we celebrated my friend Chelsea’s birthday at her place. Her husband hosted a lovely and quaint dinner party for six. We often go to their place with the kids but this time the party was sans enfants and it was so nice to catch up on our own. Yes, this does mean that the kids were left with a babysitter and NO, our toddler didn’t go to sleep when he was supposed to lol but it was still worth it.

Chels and George’s home is absolutely stunning and equipped with a beautiful resort style pool, fire pit, and outdoor dining area which made it the perfect setting for a summer birthday party. It facilitates both relaxation and outdoor parties.

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We spent the entire evening out back enjoying amazing bubbly, wines and eating good food. Isn’t it so nice to be able to finally enjoying meals outdoors? There’s nothing like it. We started our evening off with some foie gras, cheese, and Louis Buillot bubbly. If you haven’t tried foie gras OR Louis Buillot’s bubbly, both are a must, especially together. We can thank the French for both. Merci ;). We first started drinking Louis Buillot about four years ago, with Chels and George, and we haven’t turned back. My favorite ones are their Rose and their blanc de blanc. If you dare try them 😉 please leave a comment and let me know what you think of them. I don’t think you will regret it. Luckily for us, they are usually available at the LCBO in their vintages section.

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Next, we enjoyed an awesome BBQ dinner. We ate three different types of steaks along with a few beautiful salads. It was not only fresh but very flavourful. To go along with our meal we enjoyed a bottle of Monasterio De Las Minas Gran Reserva 2007. Delicious!

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Of course, with a pool like theirs, the night ended off with a late night swim and like most nights, we had an amazing time. A huge shout out to George and Chels for hosting. The evening was a huge success and so much fun.

Happy birthday lover!

xo

 

Canada Day long weekend!

Hey guys,

It’s Wednesday after the long weekend and what a fabulous weekend it was. We spent it at my in-laws home in Dunrobin, right on the Ottawa river. We drove up Friday and stayed until Monday.

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Their home is one of the best places to relax and for the kids to have fun. They built themselves their dream home, five years ago, and it is like visiting Le Nordik.

We kick started our Canada Day festivities with a 45 minute Kayak ride on the river with our son. This kid loves water. He always has. I love that he does but it also scares me to death sometimes since he is fearless. Our kayak trip was so relaxing. I’m always amazed at how quiet the river can be. You would assume that it would be busy and loud, overwhelmed with motor boats and sea-doos but it isn’t the case.  At least not where they live. While we were out, we only saw a couple of beautiful sailboats and one couple canoeing. It was as though we had the river to ourselves.

imageThe rest of the day was spent eating good food, playing with the kids and enjoying a cocktail or two ;). Paul, my father-in-law, made the most incredible mushroom, fig and caramelized onion and stuffed hamburgers for lunch. They were to die for. Dinner started with a beautiful strawberry bruschetta with Louis Buillot rose followed by confit de canard with garlic and herb potatoes and strawberries marinated in rum. If you haven’t had duck confit, you must. It is one of the most delicious dishes I have ever had in my life. My in-laws are both French (Mother-in-law is French Canadian and my father-in-law is half Austrian and half French) and make us this dish a couple times a year and each time I am blown away by the flavour.

Other highlights of our day were decorating our Canada day cupcakes, walks with the kids, searching for frogs and resting in the hammock while the kids napped. Note: napping in a hammock is good for the soul. The hammocks never fail us. Julien and I always fall asleep in those things. Once we get in we are down and out.

Last, but not least, we spent our last evening off at my parent’s place. Mom was feeling healthy enough to have us all over and it was just like the good old days. We caught up on their deck, while sipping on sangria, and enjoyed an awesome grilled chicken caesar salad. Mom had had her sixth chemo session, a week before, and will have the summer chemo free!!! Nothing makes me happier than knowing that she can rest, catch a break, regain some energy and enjoy the summer months with her many friends and family.

IMG_20170703_172349.jpgCanada day 2017 will be one to remember. The kids, Julien and I had an awesome weekend and we hope that you did as well.

How did you spend you Canada day long weekend?

Ciao,

Ash xo

Bananaquit House, St.Lucia

In February, my husband and I along with our daughter went on a group trip, with 8 other friends, to the Bananaquit House in St. Lucia. You are probably wondering why our son didn’t come. Well, when the trip was originally booked it was supposed to be a kids free trip but knowing that we were expecting we couldn’t agree to go unless we brought baby girl along. Lucky for us, we have amazing friends and they all agreed to let us bring our 6-month-old (thank you guys xo). Don’t worry though. Our son was happy to spend the week with his Mimi and Papi (my in-laws) and have them all to himself.

I am usually much more humble than this but I think that we stayed in the most breathtaking accommodations with the most spectacular view of the island’s pitons. The Bananaquit House was the very definition of luxury. We owe our stay/accommodations to our friends George and Chelsea who, once again, made this trip possible for the group. The villa had 7 bedrooms, a panoramic view of the ocean and pitons, 4 full-time staff, and a 36-foot infinity pool. It was heaven on earth.

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At the time of our departure, my mom was still in the hospital since she had just had her debulking surgery (following her ovarian cancer diagnosis). I was going to cancel the trip but she and urged me to go, get some rest (since I had been spending my days with the kids and evenings/nights at the hospital) and come back re-energized and ready to tackle the rest of her recovery/treatments. My gut was telling me to stay but I listened to mom and, before leaving, made sure that there were flights home available while we were there just in case I needed to return home. The good news is that I was able to speak with mom daily, which eased my guilt about being away, and that she did ok while I was gone. Luckily she had my sister with her and she took amazing care of her.

So, we packed our things last minute, boarded the flight to St. Lucia and I’m happy that we did. Before leaving I was SO overwhelmed with fear, sadness, and anxiety. I literally felt as though I couldn’t breathe. People often talk about feeling anxious but I could never relate. Until now. I was running between home and the hospital and felt guilty when I wasn’t at one or the other and trying to understand and cope with mom’s diagnosis. I was literally working on fumes. This trip allowed me to slow down, breathe and return home better equipped to tackle the road ahead.

Looking back at the trip, I think that St. Lucia may be one of the most beautiful spots that I will ever see in my life. We spent a week in our beautiful villa and the staff were incredible! The women that worked there were unbelievably kind and made the most amazing meals. We happened to have been there on Valentine’s Day and they made a special meal for those of us who didn’t go out for dinner. They also made us awesome snacks for us when we had beach days. Their crab cakes were insane!

Our days were spent enjoying the beautiful views that our villa had to offer, going on walks, eating good food, sipping on cocktails and relaxing.

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Some other highlights of the trip are as follow:

  1. The “famous” Anse Chastenet beach: was about a 20-minute walk from our villa so we visited it on a few occasions. The walk to the beach was hilly but fun 🙂 and the beach was breathtaking and well worth the walk. There happened to be a fabulous restaurant on the beach that made the best hamburgers I have EVER eaten in my 32 years of existence. I believe the restaurant is owned by the Jade Mountain hotel. If you ever go to this beach, “you gotta eat here.”
  2. Jalousie beach: was is insane. We took a boat over to this beach and spent the afternoon and it was 100% worth it. The views were breath-taking and almost unbelievable. I am so grateful to have been able to spend just a few hours here. The beach was white as white (although we later found out that the sand is shipped in) and the water couldn’t have been clearer. There were a few stunning sailboats that were docked and it was a relatively quiet beach. It is also the location of the famous Sugar Beach resort. Once we arrived, we parked ourselves on the beach, enjoyed a couple cocktails and sucked in the views while we could.
  3. Dashene restaurant and bar: there were two dinners planned outside of the villa. I wasn’t able to make one of them, however, my daughter and I were able to make the first night out to the Dashene restaurant. The restaurant was part of the Ladera resort, a luxury resort in Soufriere, located on a volcano ridgeline which is also a UNESCO world heritage site. The evening views of the pitons were once again stunning. From what I understand, the restaurant’s chef used local ingredients to prepare his meals and his dishes were to die for. I highly recommend this restaurant if you’re looking to eat out while in Soufriere, Dashene is a must.

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Overall, this trip was stunning and exceptionally planned by our friends. A HUGE thank you to them for this trip and for making it possible for all of us. For those thinking about traveling to St. Lucia I say “just do it.” You only get to live once so take advantage of the opportunities that arise.

Bon voyage!

Love,

Ash xo