Blog Archives

Summertime: Cottaging on a Beach

Summertime is super short here in Canada and where I live in Southern Ontario cottaging is a big thing to do. (You might know what I call a cottage as a “summer home” or a “camp”). I grew up cottaging on a smallish lake where you have a dock, you don’t necessarily see your neighbours and you are serenaded to sleep at night by loons. It’s a fantastic place to retreat and for my extended family to hang out together.

Recently I visited a cottage on Thunder Beach which is on the shores of Georgian Bay. What a contrast to the type of cottaging I’m used to! It’s like going to the beach beside an ocean except it’s all fresh water. The kids dug in the sand, they swam, we walked on the beach, walked to the corner store and even played at a little park.

The “cottages” are quite something. The Thunder Beach community has been around for five or six generations and gradually all the original beach cottages are being torn down and replaced with massive beach homes. Kinda like these ones ….

It’s really a matter of personal preference but I like that you don’t have all the creature comforts of home when at a cottage. Don’t get me wrong – cottages have gotta be clean and (for me) mouse-free but seriously … you don’t all need your own washrooms when cottaging – it isn’t a hotel!

This size of beach cottage is more my style …

I gotta say I could get used to the beach cottage. I love the proximity to the water, the beach walking and the community atmosphere. It’s so different than anything I have ever known.

What about you? Where do you spend your summer?

Summer Holidays

I know summer holidays are the best thing ever … or so I keep hearing from everyone. Truth be told, I’ve been a little anxious about the idea of the kids being out of school for summer. You see, I like routine, I like having a few hours kid-free during the day and I generally like the structure that the school year provides. When school is out I stress about how I am going to get things done for work and how to keep the kids occupied.

Instead of being anxious or complaining I decided to plan the summer to try to keep me sane! The kids are in a few camps, I’ve slowed my work schedule down (an advantage to being self-employed) and I’ve got a list of activities for us to do. I’m finding the household routine I crave by setting structure for the kids. They still have to make their beds and get dressed right after breakfast and each day they are keeping a daily journal. Getting the kids into the new routine seems to be working.

With that being said there is something magical about summer holidays. It’s a time to hang out and be silly, it’s a time to try new things and it’s a time to visit with friends. My kids are at a great age for doing things together in the summer – they still want to do things with me and they aren’t off at camp or working all summer yet.

Ever had a photoshoot doing shadow dancing? I have. You should try it sometime …

I had a reminder this morning of just how special this time is as I hairsprayed three mohawks for crazy hair day at the camp they are all attending this week. We were all giggling and laughing and taking turns spiking each other’s hair up.

We took a family holiday last week and spent time with friends and family up at cottages and shared special time in Ottawa just the five of us. As my Papa always like to say “These are the good times!”. Here are some pictures from our holiday.

What do you have planned for the summer?

I will take a cold one on the dock, please!

For all you Canucks … enjoy your long weekend. I sure will!

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A Nantucket Summer Home

I’ve got cottages and summer homes on the brain as the cottage season here officially kicks off this weekend. Today I am sharing with you a Nantucket home that was originally built in 1747 and has recently restored by it’s architect owners as a getaway for themselves and their four boys.

Check it out:

I love the mix of textures and the muted colour scheme. Am a particular fan of the mosaic tile in the bathroom and the exposed timbers throughout the second floor.

What do you think?

all images via New England Home

The Tuesday after Labour Day …

I think it should be renamed the best day in the world. Better than Christmas? Yup. Better than my birthday? Yup. Birth of kids? Yup!

Why do you think I am jumping up and down on a Tuesday morning?

Because it is the day that the kids go back to school and today ROUTINE! returns to our home.

Don’t get me wrong. I love summer holidays. We had an amazing holiday in Vermont, tonnes of fun at the cottage, excursions around town and lots of visiting with friends and family.

But I am ready for routine to return to my life. The kids are ready too.

I learned a lot this summer about myself and how much I crave a predictable routine for our family. It was tougher to create than I thought. Much of this was driven by my work schedule being busier than I had anticipated. This created an ongoing scramble to find childcare and figure out when I was going to get stuff done. At the start of the summer I had it all figured out but … alas.

With every project I like to do a lessons learned to reflect on where I’ve been, what worked and what I can improve in the future. Here are the three key lessons I have learned from this summer:

Get up early to work when the house is still quiet

I shifted some of my workday to start at 5:30am and was very productive in the early hours of the day and even enjoyed stunning sunrises from my third floor home office. Getting up early meant that I got a lot of what I needed to do done and could focus on the day without stressing about finding more time.

Slow down multi-tasking

This is admittedly still a work in progress but what I have found is that when I stop trying to do 5,000 things at once I actually get more accomplished by making a focused effort on one thing at a time. The kids benefit too as I am not constantly distracted when we are together.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

If it is truly critical to do it will get done. It’s seeing through the noise of the to-do list that makes this hard to remember.

As I celebrate back to school and the return of routine one of the things on my to-do list this week is to blast through my house and return it to pre-summer levels of organization! Let’s see how this goes …

Anyone else pumped for the first Tuesday after Labour Day?

images via here

Haliburton Forest Store

I’ve just returned from 11 wonderful days up at my family cottage near Haliburton. The first picture you see is a view of the lake. It was a great break, wonderful weather and the lake was as warm as a bathtub.

While there, I checked out The Forest Store. The Forest Store sells beautiful items handcrafted at the Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve. (sidenote: If you are ever in the area you should check out the Reserve – tons to do in all seasons.)

I just loved the all the wood items and the creative ways pieces of wood had been shaped and repurposed. Here are a few yummies I wanted to share with you …

Burled wood bowl

a wolf puzzle

bread boards

candle holders carved into birch tree logs

another stunning bowl

my sidekick really liked this chair

I resisted buying about ten items I had my eye on and came away with these … I had originally envisioned giving the smaller candle holders away as hostess gifts but am considering keeping them for myself!

If you are ever Haliburton you should totally check The Forest Store out.

all images via moi

Note: I wasn’t compensated in any way for this post … just shared with you something that I really liked!

What happened to dessert?

Remember my musings on summer desserts?

Well, this is what I came up with and it was delish! And super easy – I almost felt like someone who really knows how to cook!

You should try it too!

Cool Treats

My magazine subscriptions have been trickling in since the end of the Canada Post strike and I devoured the latest edition of House & Home last week.

During my initial flip through the mag I lingered over this amazing living room in jewelry designer Maryan Keyhani’s house. She’s curated different styles of furniture yet kept a unified look by using a neutral colour pallete and clean, simple lines. I love how bright and open this space is.

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But then I was stopped in my tracks. Literally. Inspirational home design ideas were thrown out the window.

All I could focus on is this Chocolate Chip Ice Cream sandwich. Sooo tempting and it looked like something I could actually make!

Look at the yumminess …

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Decadent right?

But wait! The cover of the August issue of Chalelaine featured this!

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches … oh yeah!

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The weather here is hot and humid. So today instead of cool design musings, I bring you cool treats. Literally.

I’m having some friends over on the weekend … should I make the Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches or the Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches?