The Sunday 7

Happy Christmas eve! How is it already Christmas tomorrow?! My favourite time of year is here and before we know it, we'll blink and it will be gone. Today, all I have planned is eating, baking, more eating, evening mass and spending time with the fam. This marks Blake's first Christmas so this holiday is even more special. Enjoy the time with your loved ones! xo

  1. Our trip to Manitoba this week brought the most beautiful, snowy (warmer) cold weather that allowed us to spend time outdoors. I was able to get this beauty shot above before my iphone shut off from the cold temps, figures right?! We had the best time with family and I even had a chance to visit my favourite local shop, Pineridge Hollow. I grabbed this amazing smelling 'White Pine' candle.
  2. These creative ways to 'dress up your toast' for Christmas morning by food blogger Brittany Stager look oh so yummy. Try these tomorrow morning!
  3. I hope I've been good this year because this cool piece of new technology is on my wishlist :)
  4. Check out this cute desktop wallpaper to brighten up your computer or mobile backdrop to match the festive season. Anything plaid or checkered for me please!
  5. This (easy) tomato soup recipe with a grilled cheese and this will be a perfect lunch.
  6. Looking for a last minute Christmas idea (24 hours to go)?! This gold flatware set is beau-ti-ful!
  7. I love this white envelope idea for Christmas. There is so much more to the season than gift giving. I seriously love giving rather than receiving.

Merry Christmas everyone!

A Blanket of Calmness & Clarity

This past weekend marked the first big snow fall of the season back at home on the farm and across much of Ontario. Who knew Ontario could (still) be host to this much snow early in December and -20 degree temperatures?! I thought this type of winter was something only my in-laws experienced in 'Winter-peg" Manitoba in December.

There is nothing better than being in the countryside to take in the first snowfall to unofficially mark the start of winter. Blake is in awe. You can see through his eyes, the newfound magic of seeing snow for the first time. The sounds he makes as he screams (in joy I hope?! ha) watching the white stuff fall has been one of the coolest things to experience with him. I am beginning to understand why parents say they get to relive everything over again when you watch and experience everything for the first time through your children's eyes.

There is something about the first snowfall of winter that I SO welcome. It is so calming; looking out of the window and seeing the snow settled on the ground, like a warm blanket comforting the earth.

Its reason #93746284758 to love living in Canada because I really do love the change in seasons. Each season provides just enough time for us to enjoy its welcomed differences from the last season, before we get bored with it and then all of a sudden, a new season is upon us. I love how different each season is; how each season renews us; and how each season allows us to do something completely different. Hard to believe only four months ago you could have found me on the water in a bathing suit on a dock and now we're zipped up in parkas in freezing cold temps.

I think that is the whole point of each new season - each season ushers in a different feeling for us.

For me, spring brings a fresh awareness of everything new around us; summer makes me want to relax; fall provides perspective and winter is for hibernation and much needed silence, calmness and reflection after a busy year.

Each year seems to get busier and busier, so winter and its calmness and clarity (and chance to catch up on sleep!) really are welcomed. Similar to the animal kingdom, it really is a time to hibernate by getting in our comfy clothes, watching more netflix, reading more books (that we've put off reading all year), eating all the treats our heart desires and spending time with our favourite people.

After the craziness of becoming a first time mom earlier this year, for some reason more than any other year, I am SO ready for this winter season. How about you?!

The Sunday 7

Inspired by Interior designer and blogger Shea McGee at Studio McGee, I've followed suit and started my own 'Sunday 7' series here on the blog. Shea was the keynote at the Blog Podium conference I attended in Toronto this past September. This series can be a fun a way to capture all of the random work + play items-articles-happenings-design inspiration-photos-thoughts that spark my interest.

Hope you enjoy!

  1. Loving this DIY calligraphy wrapping paper that may look ah-mazing all year round, not just under the Christmas tree.
  2. If you are in need of some of the cutest cards and prints, check out local Ontario gal Sarah's Etsy shop, 'Sweet Simplicity Paper Co.'
  3. I ordered matching beanies for Blake and I from Muskoka Baby, a Muskoka mom making handmade and fashionable baby products and accessories!
  4. If you haven't yet read about 94-year old tweeter Harry Leslie Smith, do yourself a favour and read this fascinating article about him.
  5. My family and I visited the Toronto Christmas Market for the first time together this weekend, in the well-known distillery district. What a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas and take in the historic buildings in a beautiful setting. Oh and it was my first time trying mulled wine (so good!). I'll be trying my hand at  making mulled wine over the holidays with this recipe.
  6. We are heading west this week to visit the in-laws in Manitoba for Christmas. You'll be able to find me in the quiet countryside, cozied up with a new good read and browsing (for hours) in my favourite little shop, Pineridge Hollow.
  7. The first major snowfall this weekend at home on the farm was so peaceful and calming. You could tell even Duke our farm dog enjoyed the new blanket of snow. I was able to write a blog post about this welcomed 'quietness' that the snow brings, I'll be sharing next week!

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Things I Love About Our Country #Canada150

Happy belated Canada day, friends!

Now that I am (somewhat) caught up on sleep from what was an epic Canada day long weekend, which included celebrating my little brother's wedding, I wanted to share 6 of the things I love about our country to commemorate #Canada150. Hope you got to celebrate what was uniquely yours on Canada day!

[1. Food and wine]  - strawberry picking, pumpkin patches, cherries, maple syrup, lentils, there are so many amazing things I've been surprised to learn we grow, produce and harvest within our very own country. We truly have one of the safest, most sustainable food systems in the world with the abundance and variety of yummy foods we produce. We should also be proud of our emerging wine industry - we may be a few hundred years behind Europe in our wine production but our wines from BC and Ontario are still incredibly tasty too! The photo of the cherries above is actually our neighbour's cherry tree. Talk about eating and enjoying local?! #HowCoolIsThat

[2. The views and our 4 seasons] - I think it is fair to say we may have some of the most diverse, vast landscapes of any country in the world in part because of the 4 seasons we get to experience. From the mountain views, to the prairie flats, our waterways to the red dirt on the east coast, you can experience so much in just one country (even though it takes a far distance to get from one end to the other and 4 changes of clothing for each season!). I feel fortunate to have visited almost all Canadian provinces - the only two provinces I have yet to visit are Newfoundland and Saskatchewan which I have added to my travel bucket list! Some of my favourite views (of so many in our country) that I've been able to personally savour include mountains views from Sidney, BC and Banff/Lake Louise, AB; rocky shores in Lake-of-the-Woods/Kenora, ON; watching the northern lights in the prairie, Manitoba skies; harbour ocean-front views in North Rustico, PEI and one of my absolute favorite views, the calming, scenic views from my family's cottage on the Trent River in ON. Oh and fall is still my favourite season of them all :)

[3. Innovations and creations] - I didn't realize how many incredible innovations our country and Canadians are responsible. Some of them are life changing and some are the simple pleasures we and so many millions enjoy - things like insulin, peanut butter (one of my absolute favs!), the life vest, the electric wheelchair, backup lights on modern cars, garbage bags and the paint roller. You can read more awesome inventions here. Who knew how truly awesome we are?!

[4. The Great Lakes] - Being raised on the water, I've always been attached to the water and love a good deep breathe of fresh, water air (it could also be the fact that I am the water sign Cancer). Being from Ontario, I love how close we are to the Great Lakes, all 5 of which are just a drive a way to enjoy. I'll never forget learning in grade school how to remember the names of our 5 Great Lakes - remember the acronym HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior!) You are welcome :) Side note, my girlfriends and I thought the Great Lakes are so awesome that we got the sweatshirt I'm pictured in above, made last summer when we were all in Grand Bend #BestIdeaEver

[5. The Canadian game of Hockey] - The photo above of the goalie is of my very own husband Andrew in his glory days as a goalie for the University of Guelph. He has since hung up his pads, but I love how much we enjoy the game of hockey together. I've always been a huge fan (of not only him) but the game of hockey itself. I have loved being a fan in the stands since a young age and understand the game enough to rock our family hockey pool which I won this year ;)

[6. Our 'Canadianisms'] - There are so many awesome things that make us known as Canadians that I'm calling these our 'Canadianism's. Things like the iconic Hudsons Bay brand of colourful stripes (I have the paddle above!), maple syrup, poutine, Tim Hortons, the red maple leaf, our manners/politeness - these are just a few of the things that make us so uniquely known around the world as Canadians.

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2016 {the year of many firsts}... and the best is yet to come in 2017!

While we're 14 days into 2017, I couldn't look back on 2016 more fondly as a year that I considered 'the best year yet.'

Until this year..... more to come on that so read on!

I made a commitment last year to make 2016 'different' in everything I did - personal, professional, my business, my hobbies AND my attitude. One of those differences that inevitably fell into my lap was embracing firsts, something I may not have been so open too in the past.

Embracing 'firsts' teaches you so much about yourself - what your capcity is for courage, strength, spontaneity, adventure, experiencing news things that you're not use too or comfortable with and just how open you (and your attitude) are to welcoming firsts, in the first place!

I really tried to continue living by the motto I shared back in my 2015 Year in Review"Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone." Some firsts last year weren't easy, but man did they feel good after they were done, knowing I had set my mind to doing them!

To reflect on what some of those 'firsts' were for me and others close to me, I thought I would highlight some of the memorable 'firsts' from last year (there were surely more but not enough time to capture everything!):

  • Travelling with my family on our first out-of-province trip to receive our second Holstein Canada Master Breeder award in Banff, Alberta
  • Horeseback riding in the Alberta mountains
  • Hiked a mountain (Tunnel Mountain in Banff)
  • Explored many new towns, cities and destinations in our very own Ontario including the Muskokas, Bayfield, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Lake of the Woods/Kenora and Bobcaygeon (home to the infamous Tragically Hip song!)
  • Worked with new clients both in and outside of agriculture - learning about new industries is fascinating (and what agriculture can learn from these industries is invaluable!)
  • My family started building their first robotic dairy barn, which will be completed this winter
  • Andrew and I took our boat through the Trent Severn Waterway liftlocks in my hometown of Hastings
  • I visited my first-ever cranberry and shrimp farms
  • Met so many new, amazing #girlbosses including Canada's own Conquer Kit writer & speaker, Natalie MacNeil
  • Flew in a helicopter, experiencing the beautiful fall scenery of the Muskokas
  • Saw my mom featured on the cover of a national dairy magazine, The Progressive Dairyman (way to go, mom!)
  • Experienced many amazing new firsts at work as a Press Secretary, I feel so fortunate to do what I do in the industry I love
  • Saw the Northern Lights for the first time while visiting Manitoba last summer
  • ..... and the best "first" of 2016... Andrew and I found out we're expecting a baby in 2017!

What I thought was the best year yet in 2016 is certainly going to be topped this year with the incredible gift that Andrew and I have been blessed with.

To be given the the gift of parenthood is going to be by far the greatest thing we've ever done come May, 2017 and we couldn't be more ready (despite doing this 'thing' called parenthood for the first time!).

Let the countdown begin for the BEST 'FIRST' EVER coming up in 2017! :)

2015 Year in Review