Fun at Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush!

Hey everyone,

Hope you’re all well and trying to stay positive despite the chilly weather we’ve been having here in Ottawa. Can you believe that we’re going to be getting a dump of snow this weekend? When will it end 😉 I’m hopeful that this will be the last of it and, on a more positive note, we will be very thankful for spring/ summer this year.

The last two weeks have been spent enjoying lots of time with family and trying to enjoy the great outdoors 😉 Today, I’ve decided to share with you our recent visit to Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush.

 

Fun at Fultons Pancake House and Sugar Bush

It’s been years since I’ve visited a sugar shack. Maybe even a decade. My mom called us a couple weeks ago and suggested that we take the kids for breakfast and a tour of the sugar shack. Of course, I thought that this was a fabulous suggestion since we hadn’t been in years, since our littles have never been and since the weather was cooperating so we wouldn’t freeze our butts off.

We made sure to arrive for when they opened at 9am so that we could beat the breakfast rush. So happy that we did since although the restaurant was full, it wasn’t filled to capacity so we were able to sit down and enjoy our cafeteria style breakfast. I don’t know what I was expecting but it was a cafeteria style meal. I have to say that this made it even more special 🙂 plus quick and easy for the kids! We were able to see our food options, choose what we wanted, pay for it and eat it right away.

We ended up trying a little bit of almost everything. Julien and the kids shared some pancakes, apple pie, beans, and breakfast sausage and I had their gluten-free (GF) waffles. Like any new GF dish, I didn’t know what to expect but for my GF readers, I’m happy to report that they were DELICIOUS!!! Seriously, they tasted like the real thing. We also had hot coffee and juice for the kids. Felt like we were eating breakfast at a very casual 😉 ski resort.

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Breakfast!

After filling ourselves up with sweets, we toured around the property. First on our to do list was a tour of the Heritage Maple Path which brought us to a cool teepee shelter, which the kids loved, and a cozy fire where an employee was explaining all of the old tools and techniques that were used to tap maple trees.

 

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We continued along the trail and there was a beautiful display of more of the old harvesting tools:

 

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Did you know that according to Iroquois legend, maple syrup was discovered by accident? To find out more, read the sign below.

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The sugar shack also offered a live demo on how they produce their maple syrup, they had a park for kids and sold delicious treats like cotton candy and maple lollipops. They also had a small shop where you could buy all sorts of maple syrup infused items such as bbq sauces, marinades, sweets and beauty products.

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Maple Shoppe!

I have to be honest here. I saw their beauty products but I wasn’t drawn to them until one of the employees recommended that I give their lotion a try. I’m so glad that I did because not only did it smell delicious, it was also super hydrating.  I was sold! I liked it so much that we ended up picking up a bottle of their lotion and a body scrub for my mother-in-law’s birthday.

Overall, our visit to Fultons was so much fun! The kids had a blast and it was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. If you’re looking for something different to do this weekend, I highly recommend that bring your family and/or friends to Fulton’s for breakfast and to tour their properly.

I know that visiting the sugar bush is an annual tradition for some. If you are one of those people, I would love to hear about your favourite spots so please let me know.

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

Stay warm 😉 xo

Naturally Vain – local and natural beauty products!

Hi everyone,

I hope that you’re as excited as I am about it being the long weekend!!! What do you have planned for your weekend? We plan on spending lots of time with family celebrating a couple birthdays and Easter!

I’m both happy and excited about today’s post. Have you heard of Naturallaturallyvain.ca/lovelylife? If not and if you are a lover of natural beauty products and supporting local businesses, you have to check them out. They are an Ottawa based company that makes handmade and natural beauty products.

I don’t know about you but when I was younger, I never really paid attention to whether or not the products I was using on my body were natural, let alone healthy. As I’ve grown older (they do say that you become wiser with age ;)) and gained a greater respect for my body, I’ve been more aware of what I not only put in my body but what I put on it.

One of the many cool things about Naturallyvain.ca/lovelylife is that it started as a small family business. The owner’s mother (side note: you know how much I love and support moms ;)) became concerned with the products that her family was using since they contained chemicals and preservatives so she decided to create her own line of shampoos and soaps using the best natural oils and butters available.

Her passion for creating healthy and natural beauty products for her children was then extended to friends and family. Soon after, she began selling her products locally at trade shows and in small boutiques and due to the increasing demand for her products, her daughters created NaNaturallyvain.ca/lovelylife.

The business stays true to its original intent, which was to create handmade and natural beauty products that families around the world can feel good about using.

So what do they make? Well, they offer incredible soap and bath products as well as products for your body, face, and hair. They also offer aromatherapy products but I haven’t yet had an opportunity to try them out.

So far, I’ve tried the following products:

Bright Eye Dark Circle Reducer:

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I don’t know about you but I ‘ve been struggling to find an effective eye cream to help with both my puffiness and dark circles. I’ve tried eye creams made by Khiels, Olay and many others but haven’t found one that I love. I’m happy to report that I’ve been using this eye cream, twice daily, for about a month now and love it. There are many pros to this product, besides being all natural, vegan and cruelty-free. This cream goes on SO well! It’s not only light but it has both a soft and cooling effect to it and it doesn’t leave your skin feeling sticky. It’s also sold for only $30 and the container that it’s sold in is generously packed with this beautiful cream.

I have to say that I’m super pumped about this product. I’ve noticed a definite improvement in my under eyes. Specifically, my puffiness which is now gone. I still have my dark circles but I don’t think that those will disappear in a month 😉 I look forward to continuing to use this product and I’m happy that it’s become a part of my beauty routine. For those who struggle with dark circles or could use a little pick me up ;), you should definitely give this product a try and check it out at naturallyvain.ca/lovelylife.

Next up is their Vitamin C Fix (anti-aging cream)

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This multipurpose cream is great for your both your face and body! Especially this time of the year when our skin needs a great moisturizer. The vitamin C and E in this anti-aging cream rejuvenates tired-looking skin and the rosehip refined carrier oil improves the look of any scars or stretch marks that you may have. I’ve always had sensitive skin and struggle with acne scarring so I have to be very careful with what I put on my face. Typically, I only use Clarins since I react to everything else, however, I didn’t react to either of these products which is impressive. I’m convinced that it’s due to the fact that the ingredients used in them are all natural. Another pro is that this anti-aging cream is also sold for only $30 a bottle. SO affordable, right!? Make sure to stop by their website at naturallyvain.ca/lovelylife and try it out.

Last, but not least, are their bath bombs. You have to check them out!!! They sent me their peaceful zen bath bomb and it was such a relaxing treat and I mean that. It smells so good, you want literally want to eat it. They offer over a dozen bath bombs, each made with a variety of essential oils that are good for your skin. Even better, they only cost $7 each so go ahead and treat yourself. You and your skin deserve it.

Overall guys, I’m very impressed with this local business and their products. Not only do they smell delicious, their products actually work at keeping your skin both hydrated and rejuvenated. I highly recommend that you give their products a try and that you support this natural, local, Canadian company.

For those who have tried their products, what are your favourite ones? I would love to hear about them so please leave a comment below.

That’s all for now. I hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter long weekend and that its filled with visits with friends and family, fabulous food and lots of choco treats ;).

Talk soon,

Ash xo

 

 

Tips for fighting stress!

We’re already halfway through the first month of 2018! Along with a new year comes new opportunities as well as the opportunity to look back on the previous year, providing the opportunity to reflect on both all of the good and the bad.

2017 was a fabulous year! Our family of four traveled together, I enjoyed the last 6 months of my last maternity leave, Julien and I had a getaway to Banff, my sister moved home from Vancouver and we spent lots of time with our family and friends.

Like most, 2017 also presented us with some difficult times. Just before Christmas 2016, we lost my grandma. Lucky for me, mom and I were with her when she passed. I’m honoured that I was able to help granny through her last day on earth but this experience was both stressful and heartbreaking. Granny was my only grandparent present in my life and meant so much to my mom, sister and I. I could dedicate many posts to granny and all of the things that we did together and how much I/we loved her. She literally dedicated her entire life to her children and grandchildren and I will forever be grateful to her for that and all of the memories we have.

A few weeks after granny passed, Mom was diagnosed with stage 3B ovarian cancer and less than a week later, underwent major debulking surgery, two days before her 59th birthday. She spent quite literally the rest of 2017 fighting her cancer. For anyone who has had a parent diagnosed with cancer you know how difficult this can be and how helpless it can leave you feeling. For those who know me, you know that my mom is my world and quite literally my first love! She, like granny, has dedicated her entire life to her babies and I’m SO lucky to have such a present, loving and fun mom.

So, now it is 2018 and I’m happy to report that December 2017 was mom’s healthiest month since her diagnosis. She hosted an amazing Christmas dinner as well as NYE with her friends and she’s had more energy than ever. She’s been able to snowshoe, keep up with her grand kids and spend lots of time with family and friends. She’s even been working out. What a champ! She’s a real life superhero :)!

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Three peas in a pod!

Even better, mom had her regular 3-month appointment this week with her oncologist and she received positive feedback 🙂 our family couldn’t have asked for anything better. Her chemo worked really well and her cancer remains in remission. F*uck you cancer, you messed with the wrong mama!

Like most, the love that I have for my family is immense. I wouldn’t be who I am without all of them so when mom was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer, 11 years after she fought breast cancer, I was devastated. I was half-way through my maternity leave and was heartbroken. It was one of my biggest nightmares. Although I had SO much good going on, I felt as though I was drowning in pain over this. As though I couldn’t cope with mom’s diagnosis and our new reality. It just wasn’t fair…of course, like many, I learned that life isn’t always fair.

Lucky for us, mom is strong and recovered from the insanely difficult surgery and recovery, her painful chemo and is living each day to the fullest. She is positive 95% of the time, allowing herself to have the occasional pity party day, understandably. Because of her strength, I try to encourage myself to show the same strength and to focus on all of the good that we have going on in our lives!

Since the end of her chemo, she see’s her oncologist every 3 months at which time they tell her about her markers etc. This process has been quite stressful. The first two months we’re all happy and well 🙂 we focus on all the positive and try not to think about the cancer but as we approach the third month we become more and more anxious. I don’t know about you but I’ve never experienced real anxiety until this year and sometimes it can be quiet overwhelming. I think that it’s directly linked to the lack of control that I have in this situation. So, I’ve decided to share with you some of my tips and tricks for dealing with stress and anxiety 🙂 I’ve only recently (2017 onward) started practicing these activities and although they weren’t easy to do at first, I’ve come to love each of them.

As I’ve noted before, I used to be a major cardio junky. This changed, in the last year, as I really needed to slow down, relax and breathe. Here are my tips for staying calm anytime and especially when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:

Incorporate yoga into your weekly regime, including conscious breathing:

As previously mentioned in my post about our family trip to Florida, yoga really helped reduce the stress that I was feeling at the time. I started practicing with my father-in-law and really helped reduce my anxiety, around mom’s diagnosis, when I was on maternity leave. Being a runner, I loved nothing more than intense workouts. Yoga can be intense but the conscious breathing, holding of poses and reflection at the end are medicinal. I swear tears literally fell, quietly, at the end of many classes as I lay there on my mat, practicing mindfulness and gratitude.

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Yoga taught me that it’s ok to slow things down. That both my mind and body appreciate it and that practicing conscious breathing greatly reduces ones stress/anxiety. For those who feel as though your days are flying by and that you have little down time, I highly recommend that you give yoga a try. Like meditation, it is SO hard to slow your mind and body down, at first, but with time you will reap the benefits.

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Meditation and mindfullness

Do you meditate? If so, I would love to know which apps or books you follow. If not, you should totally try it out 🙂 Why? Why not? Even before mom’s diagnosis, she tried to encourage us to meditate and I’d always say sure mom lol well, like everything else, she was right. Meditation is AWESOME and has helped me get through the difficult times this year and continues to help me daily.

I love to use the apps headspace and calm. At first, it was SOOOO hard to meditate. All I did was think about all I had to do, how weird it was that I was lying on the couch or sitting on a chair trying to focus on nothing when all I could do was focus on all that I had to do. Well, like most activities, meditation takes practice and, if you give yourself time, and practice regularly, your meditation sessions will improve and bring you much joy.

Like yoga, I started practicing meditation last summer, when mom was undergoing chemo. I figured why not try it out. I’d put our daughter down for her afternoon nap, lay down on the couch, plug myself into headspace and do a 10 minute session. For those who use this app, you already know how intoxicating this guys voice is. You can’t help but hold onto it and try hard not to fall asleep. At first, it was hard to make it through 5-10 mins but now I do at least 10 minutes a day and, if I need it, I will do an additional 10 on my way home from work.

 

 

Presently, I use headspace, once and a while, on my commute home from work and I use Calm before bed. Julien probably regrets telling me about Calm lol because I listen to it EVERY SINGLE night before bed and without headphones. It’s amazing. You can listen to meditation for sleep, relaxation, stress etc and to different sounds. My favourite sessions are those for sleep with rain in the background. Amazing! I swear I’m asleep within the first three minutes. I highly recommend adding meditation to your daily routine. Another benefit is that is allows me to practice conscious breathing and gratitude daily. #grateful!

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Dehumidifer and calming scents:

Last, but not least, my parents-in-life bought us a dehumidifer for Christmas and it has also become part of our evening routine. We like to use it with a variety of amazing scents that encourage relaxation. I like to use it when we are watching a show in the living room and then again when we go to bed 🙂 I set it so that its on for two hours, turn my sleppy time meditation on and I am gone lol is there a better way to fall asleep! We have a few scents now but I would love to hear about your favorite ones so please do feel free to leave a comment with your recommendations.

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So, there are a few of my tips for reducing stress. Tomorrow, after waiting 9 weeks, I will be receiving my BRCA results. I can promise you that tonight, like every night ;), I will be going to sleep with my dehumidifier, and calming scents, while listening to my sleepy time meditation and I encourage you to do the same.

For those who try these tips out, I hope that they bring you much joy. As for staying positive, this is just in my nature. I’ve always been and will always be a positive person. Life is good and I encourage everyone to wake up with a grateful heart. Grateful for their life, their children, health, family and friends!

Hope you have a fabulous weekend! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your ongoing support.

Love,

Ash xo