Mike and I both work Monday to Friday, 9-5 (more or less). Like most people who work during those busy commuter hours, we spend a lot of the time out of the house, and away from our little one. Although we have always really cherished our weekend time with one another, now that we are both back to work full time since my maternity leave, the weekends are even more precious. Two weekends ago, we decided to take a day, and enjoy some much needed family time. Mike, Mia and I headed out first thing Saturday morning to Rockport, Ontario to embark on a full day cruise. The cruise headed to two different castles in the Thousand Islands with a healthy lunch in between visits. Since it was the last day for cruises for the season, our boat was not very full and we had loads of room to stretch out and enjoy.
In this day and age, everyone I know is busy. Busy with work, busy with family, busy with responsibilities. Mike and I are no different, and have certainly fallen into the busy trap, especially with our home renovation. Every weekend is scheduled with tasks to bring us one step closer to moving in, but it has also brought us closer and closer to burning out. Mike quickly realized that we needed a weekend away to completely recharge, and spend a little time just us two (and Emma, of course). One day he came home, and asked if I had anything planned on a weekend in early November, and I reluctantly said no, and then quickly typed “House Renos” into our shared google calendar for that weekend. I had safely assumed that was what he meant…but I was wrong, and better yet, pleasantly surprised! Mike had contacted this lovely woman, Lucy, who owned a beautiful log cabin in Val-des-Monts, Quebec, only 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa, and had booked us a weekend stay. Once Mike had told me what he actually had planned, I was beyond excited and quickly became obsessed with looking at pictures and reading about the cabin online!
A good Canadian summer is not complete without a visit (or many visits) to the cottage. After a long Ontario winter, there is nothing like enjoying your morning coffee by the river. Watching the water sparkle in the warm sunshine is the best way to start off your day. Mike and I are very lucky to have access to my parents place in the Thousand Islands all year long, but in the summer we like to try and get up there as often as possible. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (or as you may have seen on my instagram) their place is on one of the Thousand Islands with an unreal view of the majestic St. Lawrence River. It is a tiny slice of paradise, and I am busting to get there tonight for our 3rd Annual Cottage Weekend with a huge group of our friends!!! On top of that, it is my 30th birthday on Sunday, so the timing couldn’t have worked out better! We will be boating, wake boarding, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding all weekend long! Mike surprised me with a paddle board of my very own last night, and I am thrilled to give it a go on the St. Lawrence this weekend.
Here are a few pictures from our Annual Cottage Weekend last year!
We’ve been so lucky this summer to have already spent a few weekends at the cottage, as well as a weekend at a rental cottage in Quebec where we were graciously hosted by our good friends (and matchmakers!), Maddy & Paul! It was a beautiful new home with an adorable beach house feel close to Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Quebec. The property was stunning, and it was situated on a very peaceful waterway with a killer view of the hilly Quebec countryside. We had an incredible weekend, and it was nice to be at a different cottage exploring a new area! Although having your own cottage is wonderful, being able to venture into unknown territory makes for a fun adventure 🙂
Here are a few snaps from our weekend at the Quebec rental!
Hope you`re all making the most out of your summer holidays!
Although my mom and I are very close and chat almost everyday, we don’t often get to spend a lot of one-on-one quality time together. This year, I wanted a day for just the two of us to chat and be totally uninterrupted. We started our day off with pedicures in Westboro at a trendy little place called, The Ten Spot. My mom LOVES pedicures, and gets them often to make her feet feel refreshed. She is a barefoot kind of gal, who often finds herself sock-less even in the dead of winter, which means her feet appreciate a little extra love from time to time. This works well for me because I don’t mind a little pampering myself! We had a nice and relaxing experience at The Ten Spot. The pedicurists were incredibly friendly, and fun to chat with. All in all, it was the perfect start to our day.
*Images taken from The Ten Spot webpage.
After our spa experience, we headed on over to Lansdowne for a patio lunch. If you live in Ottawa, or have traveled here recently, you’ll know that Lansdowne Park was a very old, and relatively unused space in the heart of the city. Although events were held there, it wasn’t being used to it’s maximum potential, especially considering it’s incredible location in Ottawa. Recently, it has gone through a complete overhaul and is a lovely place full of shops, a VIP movie theater, amazing restaurants, and of course, home to both the local football and soccer team’s, the Ottawa Redblacks and Ottawa Fury FC. It is a stunning facility, and a great way to spend a Saturday if you’re in the city. My mom had not been to any of the restaurants in that area, so I opted to take her to Local Public Eatery, which was my favourite spot when I lived in Vancouver. They have delicious, fresh guacamole that they make right at the table, and AMAZING fish tacos. My mom and I shared the guacamole, I, of course, got the fish tacos, and my mom got the fish and chips. It was absolutely fantastic, and the service was wonderful. Needless to say, I’ll be taking my mom back sometime soon!
Our Mother’s Day celebrations would not have been complete without dessert, so my mom and I headed over to the ultimate sweet treat hangout, Stella Luna Gelato Cafe. We anxiously waited with the masses to get our flavorful gelato combinations! Even in the small cup you can choose three flavours, and honestly it’s worth it to try as many as you can… SO. GOOD. It is always packed in the cafe, so I wasn’t able to get any photos, but i’ll for sure be back soon considering the warmer days are ahead of us!
It was certainly a spectacular day spent with my mom, and it was only the start of our celebrations which continued the next morning! My cousin and I decided to make a traditional brunch for our whole family that included french toast, scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon and fresh fruit! It was chaotic and messy, but the most fun and the best turn out. Everyone enjoyed their plates, especially my sweet Italian grandparents who had seconds! Now, I should preface this in saying that our grandparents rarely eat meals we make for them, so this was a HUGE victory. We also realized that they had never had a traditional brunch, and clearly loved it…so we will definitely be doing that sometime soon instead of our usual pasta Sunday’s.
After our gigantic family meal, Mike and I decided to take the pups for a long walk on one of the my favourite trails. The skies were clear, and the sun was blazing. It was the perfect way to end an all around great weekend.
In writing this post I just realized how food based it is…I blame that one my Italian side…any who, our Mother’s Day weekend was a huge success, and I am looking forward to the May long weekend where we get to have a post dated celebration with my mother-in-law in Northern, Ontario. Fingers crossed all the snow is gone for the year!
Have a wonderful week everyone!
Out of all the outdoor activities one can do, hiking is my absolute favourite. My love for the activity started when I was very young. My dads side of the family would spend Thanksgiving weekend together in the Thousand Islands, and as a huge group we would hike up to the top of Blue Mountain. Enjoying the glorious fall colours all while climbing to the top of the mountain to take in the spectacular view was always a huge treat for me, and truly stemmed my love for hiking. My feelings grew tenfold when I moved out to Vancouver, Canada and was able to take part some of the most spectacular hikes out there. Having since moved back to my home city I am always looking for another great hiking adventure near by, and last weekend a few of us set out to Gatineau Park to do just that.
Though cold, and quite snow covered, the sun was blazing as we set out to the Willson Ruins. Mike and I had been to this particular spot before, but we wanted to show Kayla the truly beautiful treasure since she had never even been to Gatineau Park before. The three of us (and Emma) marched through the snowy trails to the site of the ruins, and since we had only been there once before in the fall it was incredible to see the flowing water surrounded by cascading icicles.
After visiting the ruins we headed back to the parking lot to meet some of Kayla’s friends, and check out another trail. We decided on a quick loop around the Sugar Bush Trail, which is a beautifully treed hike by the river. Since it was still pretty chilly out the trail was very quiet, and we were able to stop and take some photos before the sun started to go down.
Photography by Marguerite Belanger Photography
We all had an amazing time checking out some of the many trails in Gatineau Park, and given the recent change in weather, I can guarantee it won’t be long until we’re hitting the trails again soon!
Until next time,
Despite the fact that this winter has been particularly less colossal than years past, once March hits all Ottawa folk seem to be a little more desperate for some warmer weather. Lucky for us, Mother Nature decided to gift us some for Easter, and it was much appreciated.
Since Mike was out of town, Emma and I took advantage of that spring sunshine, and hit the nearby trails with my dad and furry blonde brother, Bailey. It was amazing to get outside in a light jacket, and breathe in that fresh spring air! The four of us set out on different trails Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and it was exactly what we needed after a recent bout of terribly cold weather. Although my dad and I walk the dogs together often after work, it was especially nice spend some quality time on extra long walks in the warm daylight.
The rest of the weekend was filled with loads of family and friend time. A barbecue with my best friend’s family, a girls night out to catch the hockey game, Easter lunch at my grandparents, and an epic hunt with my cousins for enough Tim Horton’s Nutella filled cookies to feed our big Italian family occupied my weekend, and made it fly by. Usually I wish for long weekend’s to slow down, and stretch out as long as possible, but this time was a little different. Mike was gone to Revelstoke, British Columbia to snowmobile in the immense Rocky Mountain terrain during prime avalanche time (of course :-|), and therefore, I really appreciated the swiftness of this holiday weekend. Every evening I waited for the mandatory “I’m alive!” text, and I could breathe easy again until the next morning. That said, it was all worth it to see Mike’s beaming face in a few breathtaking photos throughout the trip. It was a lifelong dream for him, and I couldn’t be happier that he was able to experience that with some of his closest friends.
Now that Mike has returned home safely, I am very much looking forward to getting back into our normal routine. Given the recent change in temperature, I see a few cottage weekends, long hikes with Emma, and swims in my grandparents pool on our upcoming agenda!
Hope you’re enjoying the warm sunshine as much as I am!
If you’ve ever visited the Thousand Islands, you’d know it’s an absolutely breathtaking place. The impressively huge St. Lawrence River littered with islands of all sizes is surely a site to see. About ten years ago now my parents bought a piece of land on Howe Island. Howe Island is one of the larger masses, accessible by two ferries, straight across from Wolfe Island, which is the largest of all the islands in the area. It is very quiet with just over 500 year round residents, but in the summer months it is a HUGE hot spot for locals, and tourists looking to enjoy the sparkling open waters. My parents are absolutely in love with their little slice of paradise that, in my opinion, boasts the most beautiful view in the area. They started out building their deck/dock and boat slip, and eventually built their gorgeous house. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but they did it, and it’s absolutely amazing.
So when faced with the mid-winter blues, and the province of Ontario so kindly gives you a long weekend in February, you take it and run to a place that brings a smile to your face, and for our family, it’s the island. Mike, Kayla and I packed up the car Friday after work and made the very stormy drive to Kingston to pick up Yanik, Kayla’s boyfriend, who trained in from Toronto. The four of us (and Emma!) made our way to Howe Island from there, totally ready to start our long weekend. We woke up Saturday morning to the most gorgeous view over the water. It was so cold that there was a thick rolling cloud over the St. Lawrence, and the blazing sun made absolutely everything sparkle. Before the crew woke up, I ran down to the dock to grab a few photos before heading back to the house to start brunch. There is literally nothing better than a good coffee and a view; we were all in heavenly relaxation mode.
My parents showed up just after lunch, and once they arrived we grabbed our warmest snow gear to hit the trails. It was freezing (-40 degrees Celsius), but we were dressed so well that we all managed to work up a sweat on our 5km hike around the island. My dad was thrilled to give everyone the tour of the Howe Island trails. The rest of the weekend was filled with lounging, binge watching some of our favourite TV series’, playing scattegories, and an awesome pancake and mimosa Valentine’s Day brunch. It was a great weekend, and I can’t wait to make our way to Howe Island again soon…hopefully when the weather is a little warmer, and we can make good use of that epic dock!
Usually December in Ottawa is freezing, and buried by about 5ft of snow already. This year, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, we are experiencing the strangest winter weather yet! Every day has been mild (about 2-15 degrees Celsius) with a mix of sunshine, cloud and rain. I certainly can’t complain since it’s been easier commuting back and forth to the hospital without piles of snow and ice, BUT I really do love a white Christmas … and that is definitely not happening this year. Needless to say, rain or shine, snow or sleet, Mike and I are big outdoors fans, and we always try to spend the majority of our time off enjoying the fresh air. This past weekend was no exception.
Lucky for us, my boss gives us a free day off every year before the holidays (#bestbossever), and both Mike and I decided Friday would be the day, giving ourselves a nice long weekend. Since the weather has been so mild, and we desperately needed a day of relaxation, we decided to enjoy our awesome wedding gift from Mike’s sister, Kayla. She bought us a gift certificate to a beautiful Nordic spa in Chelsea, Quebec, which you can check it out here! Le Nordik is an incredible oasis nestled in the Gatineau Hills. It boasts gorgeous hot and cold pools, waterfalls, saunas, steam baths, fire pits, and incredible food and wine. With all of that to look forward to, Mike and I took to the road after breakfast, and made our way to the spa which is a short 30 minute drive from home. We spent most of the day there, and it was worth every minute. Between the warm pools and outdoor fireplaces we were in heaven.
Although I was hoping to snap a few photos of the spa in the day light, we ended up getting carried away with our full on relaxing day off and sadly let our photo op fall to the wayside. Fortunately, I was able to grab my phone and grab a few shots on our way out!
After our incredibly chill Friday, and a hospital visit planned for Saturday evening, Mike and I wanted to get a few things done around the house Saturday morning. After tacking some chores, we decided to take the pups (Emma and my parents dog, Bailey) for a long walk before heading downtown to see my grandpa. We were lucky enough to stumble upon some absolutely gorgeous trails about 10 minutes walking distance from our place. A few photos are posted below!
By Sunday, Mike and I were in full on outdoorsy mode after taking advantage of the weather both Friday and Saturday, so we had to close out with a weekend hat trick of outdoor activities. On our very first date, Mike took me to a property he owned in the country to enjoy a bonfire and pizza outside the rustic log cabin he built on his own…you heard correct… he built an entire log cabin with his bare hands! Totally impressive, right?! Although he eventually sold the property along with the log cabin, the new owner allows us to visit the land from time to time, and that is exactly what we did on Sunday afternoon. Along with two of our good friends, we enjoyed some four wheeler rides, and a toasty campfire until the sun was setting and the rain started up.
All in all, we had a fantastic weekend with a lot of fresh air! Hopefully that will tide us over until next weekend!
For as long as I can remember my weekends have always been jam packed full of activities. It would be a rare occurrence to find me curled up on the couch in front of the TV for hours, and when I met Mike my action packed weekends went from busy to bananas. Errands, major house renos, outdoor activities, hosting suppers, family visits, getaway weekends, wedding planning (for us and others), etc…you name it; our weekends were packed from morning to night. Go figure; I married a person with the same “ants in your pants” lifestyle as my own.
While on our honeymoon, Mike and I spent many evenings chatting about how excited we were to come home, and veg for a little while. We both seemed to forget about having similar discussions in the past related to adopting a more “relaxed” lifestyle, and then failing miserably to pull it off every time. Nevertheless, this didn’t stop us from dreaming about weekends at home with our meatball, enjoying long walks at the park, and spending our evenings cozied up by the fireplace watching our favourite shows.
Upon pulling up to the house, and dragging our luggage into the garage, these dreams very quickly came crashing down, as we found out my grandpa had fallen that morning, and was rushed to the hospital with a broken hip. It was a hard smack back to reality, but we were both so thankful to be home to help out. The whole family piled together to co-ordinate visits, as well as lend my grandma an extra hand around the house. To be expected, things were absolutely crazy (especially in the beginning). However, to my surprise, this whole misfortune actually forced us to slow down a little, and to leave some time for last minute changes in plans where we might be needed. Although it’s not the most relaxing of situations, we were lucky enough to have a weekend of puttering around the house, and enjoying last minute/low key plans. I walked the meatball with an old friend and her tiny furry pal, watched my new favourite show with my sister-in-law, enjoyed a night out with the fam at my uncle’s restaurant, did a little shopping with my great aunt (she came down from the U.S. to help out with my grandpa), and had a huge family brunch on Sunday in between everyone’s hospital visits. Oh! and the highlight of my weekend was waiting by the phone to hear the best news ever…. One of my oldest BFF’s is having a baby, and it’s a BOY! Although the link to live stream their 3D ultrasound was a dud, which was a huge bummer for me (and them obviously), I am still beyond excited about my slow cooking nephew!
Check out her adorable baby announcements! …
All in all, the unexpected semi-slow down before the holiday season has proven itself to be a nice treat, and truthfully, a much more realistic weekend pace for Mike and I. We are neither the tortuous or the hare, but we are enjoying this race we call life nonetheless.
Chat soon friends,
I'm Jessie, and welcome to Cool, Calm & Cozy!
This space is an outlet for me to connect with my creative side and keep long lasting memories with my family. Writing and making videos of our adventures together is a passion of mine, which I hope brings joy to my whole family presently and in the future!
Hope you enjoy Cool, Calm & Cozy, and thanks for following along!