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

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

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

Saturday morning market strolls

One of the best things about summer are the local farmer’s markets and being able to buy fresh and local foods. Nothing beats a Saturday morning visit to one of the many farmers market with the kids. This has become our favourite way to kick start the weekend. Now that our son is three and a half he knows that this means CROISSANTS from Art-is-in. I swear they make the best baked goods and I will seriously miss them this winter.

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Each week we like to pick up different fruits and vegetables from different vendors. This week, strawberries made their appearance and we were all over them. No, literally I couldn’t keep our son’s fingers off of them. We could smell the berries from a mile away. They smelt delicious. So sweet. Our son couldn’t resist them and even before we agreed to buy some the little guy was snatching them and eating them as if the farmer’s stand was his own personal fruit buffet. Our son was literally moaning they were so tasty lol I couldn’t believe it. Of course, we now had to buy from these farmers but we are happy that we did. We bought $10 worth of strawberries, two zucchinis and a bunch of multi-coloured tomatoes. All of which were delicious!

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The next stop was the Art-Is-In stand. For once, there wasn’t a lineup. When they first started selling their baked goods at the market you had to line up first thing in the morning or else they would sell out ASAP. By first thing I mean 8am. When the market first started, we didn’t have any kids and found it difficult to make it on time but now that we have two little ones, under four, we make it no problem ;). This year, they seem to be better prepared for their high demand. They always have a lovely selection of croissants, breads, and cookies. Honestly, I find it very difficult to choose just a few things. This week we decided to stick with only croissants. We bought one almandine, one almandine and chocolate, one butter croissant and one chocolate croissant. They were delicious and gone within 24hrs. If you haven’t bought any of their baked goods, you should definitely try them. You won’t regret it.

For those who have yet to visit their local farmer’s market, I highly recommend that you do. Even if you don’t buy anything, it is fun to just walk around and see what is for sale.

If you have a favourite farmer’s market in Ottawa and/or favourite vendor, please do let me know as we would love to go visit it.

Ciao for now,

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