What's On Your Heart?

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I keep going back to last months Magnolia magazine for many reasons, but I keep being drawn to one article in particular, the one titled "On Mentoring - Generational Wisdom".

We all need a mentor or mentors in our lives and this article articulates why. Its doesn't have to be the 'big things', but the small gestures offered between both the mentor and 'mentoree' that help each individual grow and mature to be the best they can be. The relationship between these two gentlemen in the article really does seem to be a 'once in a lifetime' experience and from their words, it truly resonates how much they mean to each other. 

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Have you ever had a first meeting like Poppa describes above? I've been lucky enough to have had a handful of these and for every person that this has occurred with, I'm still friends with and look up to and admire them. You can tell from his words just how important taking on a role of being a mentor has been in his life and after decades of support and daily conversations, I can only imagine how special the bond is between these two men. Jerry uses words such as 'encouragement' and 'priceless' to describe their relationship and you can tangibly feel/sense how much he looks forward to those 8am conversations...

Every word of this article hit home to me and the warmth and genuine respect for the human relationship warmed my heart...but.... one phrase really, really stuck out and I'm going to begin to use it in my everyday life, as I feel it is so important on so many levels and for so many reasons....

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"What's on your heart for the day ahead?"

I LOVE THIS!!

He doesn't ask "what's on your mind?", but instead, "what's on your heart?". This warms my heart and soul to the core as it's probably one of the most important questions we can ask those we care about to truly 'check in' and get a gauge on where both their mind and heart stands for the day ahead. It pushes the respondent to 'dig deep' and potentially bring difficult or challenging feelings to the surface that could be a huge barrier for their day and even weeks ahead. I realize that this isn't a question we can just ask anyone, at least I would feel more comfortable asking this to someone I had a more established relationship with, but with that being said, I would feel comfortable asking someone I didn't quite as well if I sensed the person I was in conversation with was struggling with their day and was having difficulties finding the words to explain their thoughts/feelings. Again, it wouldn't be in every situation like that that I may come across...I'd have to 'go with my gut'...but it's a phrase that could also help build or take a relationship to the next level, as it's a question that requires some true soul searching and self awareness and being able to open up to the person asking you this requires a level of trust and understanding you would not find in every relationship in your life.

We're coming into a time of year that can be emotionally and mentally challenging for a number of people for a number of reasons. Loved ones and those we care about (including ourselves) can find the hustle and bustle and sentiment of the Christmas season to be too much at times and when we sense that occurring, why not offer to go get a coffee, ask that person about their day and dive into 'what's on their heart' at that moment. 

I truly believe that the words 'mentor' and 'friend' can be used interchangeably as both terms show a level of caring towards the other person in the relationship, for their overall well being and growth. This holiday season, why not challenge yourself to be that 'priceless' person and invest time in those you hold close to your heart and at the same time, if you feel you need a little extra encouragement and support, don't be afraid to tell someone close to you, what's on your heart too....

RR

Where Has This Year Gone??

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How on earth is it November 19th??

This year has absolutely flown by and I can't get over how full every day is and when I say full, I mean it in only the best way!

I will fully admit that I haven't been spending as much as I would like to with the big guy (aka Lightning - my horse), but the time we do spend together is so good for my soul....and his too I think. I snapped this photo as he was eating his dinner and as he does so, I lean on him like he's a big, furry pillow. He munches away and I get to breath in the horsey aroma that has intoxicated me since I was a child. So simple, yet soooo good.

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Speaking of big guys, it wouldn't be November without a trip to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. My bestie's family shows there every year so I went in to see her daughter and uncle show on a Sunday afternoon. The day I was there her daughter showed a Clydesdale in a line class and she did a fantastic job. These gentle giants are truly magnificent creatures and Clydes will always be my first love of the equine world.

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There's something magical about the first snow and as I stepped out my front door at the City Cottage on the sunny morning after ours in Guelph, I couldn't help but smile and revel in the beauty that surrounded me. 

The second photo above is the view from the end of the laneway at my Moms home (the Country House). The tamaracks are so beautiful with their rusty-burnt orange hue this time of year...I was out gathering greenery and couldn't help but snap this photo.

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The greenery I was collecting was for these....I got a head start on the Winter/Christmas decor at the Country House by putting together the planter inserts at the front door. Every piece contained in the insert is from our property and I'm beyond happy with how well they turned out.

They're so full with a variety of textures, from the hydrangeas to the cone flowers to the 'fluffy weeds', I just love them!!

I wouldn't have been able to pull these together without the help of this guy.....

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My Charlie Bear helps me with the outdoor decor every year and this year he was right beside me, ensuring only the best from a quality control perspective... I just love him to bits and with that face, how can you not?

I hope you've had a wonderful November too and can you believe that it'll be Christmas in 5 short weeks?? I better start my shopping!!!

RR

Time For A Refresh - Part Two

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My last blog post took you through the first steps of my living/dining area refresh. 

From painting the walls in Ink Black from Home Depot, to my gorgeous antique sideboard from Simply Cottage in Bracebridge, the room was taking shape quickly!

A part of the refresh also meant a new couch was in order too. I had originally had my heart set on a camel leather option but after much searching and researching, I came to a sad conclusion. Living in a small cottage has its limits and whoever designed the entryway of my home obviously did not have the idea of moving furniture in mind when they built it. I am limited to the size of furniture I can bring in both my front and side door (sadly) and I could not find a couch of the leather colour and type I wanted that was small enough and I was not about to spend thousands on a custom leather piece either. Soooo......I found a very, very happy replacement with the help of the amazing gals at Urban Barn in Cambridge. We had paint samples, fabrics and accessories strewn around the back corner of the store as we decided on fabric for a custom piece for my home. I was also in the market for a new rug too and they happened to have THE perfect one that would still allow me to bring leather into my space, just in a different avenue.

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After much contemplation, re-checking measurements and trying out the 'comfie' factor, I decided on the Lure Custom Sofa in a lux, cozy fabric option. I cannot say enough about how wonderful the staff at the Cambridge store were and how the entire experience of choosing, ordering and delivery have been nothing but impeccable! Another aspect that I am really happy about is that my couch is Canadian made (and Urban Barn is a Canadian company). It feels good to know I'm supporting our economy through my choices and receiving a high quality, beautiful end product.

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The day of delivery arrived (to say I was excited is an absolute understatement) and the photo above was taken literally two minutes after the pieces were placed in my living room (the delivery experience was fantastic and the guys took impeccable care of the pieces as they entered the house through tight constraints!). I mayyyy have let out a wee squeal of happiness to see the pieces in place and I spent the duration of the afternoon pulling the space together.

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I went with the cozy grey velvet-esque fabric to add warmth to the space and tie to the faux bois fabric in the chairs/coffee table. The leather 'rag rug' has hints of camel, grey and turquoise to tie in the sideboard and bring some light into the space. My 'forever' pieces from Willowhouse still look amazing in the space (my coffee table and sofa table on my gallery wall behind the chairs) and I just couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear as I witnessed everything coming together.

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With the key pieces in place, it was then time to add in just a few more accessories, but mainly, throw pillows! I had looked high and low and had an idea of what I was looking for and to say I was overjoyed when I found the perfect options at Comfort & Co in downtown Guelph would be an understatement. Wendy and I had fun mixing and matching the many fabtastic options she had in store and I ended up taking home 4 pillows that exude comfort, coziness and bring their own story to the space through their texture and tones. These two in the photos above have helped transform this corner of the couch/living room and the faux fur options in the photos below have added a sense of lux coziness that only 'fur' can add to a space.

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My home is transforming every day to be even more 'me' and I couldn't be happier! I cannot say 'thank you' enough to those involved in assisting in this transformation, from friends and family who I bounced ideas off of and helped move things around, to the companies I worked with the bring these beautiful new pieces/colours into my home. I couldn't have done this without:

- Home Depot, Guelph

- Simply Cottage, Bracebridge

- Urban Barn, Cambridge

- Comfort & Co, Guelph

Stay tuned for further updates and I can't wait to show you the dining table that will be the final piece to bring this space together.... I hope you've enjoyed the journey through my design/decor adventure as much as I have!

RR

Time For A Refresh - Part One

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Every 5 years or so I get the urge for a major change and seeing that I celebrated 6 years in my City Cottage this year, it was time for change. Do I sell? I really didn't want to as I love my home, my neighbours, my neighbourhood etc so that really wasn't an option. I looked around my living/dining room and with the help of some inspiration from the Instagram account of @the_girl_with_the_green_sofa (you must have a look), I decided it was time to refresh my living space. Wait until you see the before and after!!!

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So, I sold my furniture (my sideboard that has been with me for almost 10 years was the hardest piece to part with), decided on a paint colour for the walls, found the perfect 'jumping off piece' (a sideboard from Simply Cottage) and off I went!

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The patina on this piece pulled me in from the moment I saw it on their Instagram feed (yes, I bought this piece sight unseen). A huge 'thank you' to my incredible friends that brought this home for me....it's absolutely what I had hoped for and more!

I had painted test canvases to help decide on what paint colour I wanted to move forward with.....I went with Ink Black by Behr at Home Depot. It went on incredibly well and as much as I enjoy painting, I'm pretty slow, so the fact that it went on so well and evenly, let me finish the project in a day!

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So I cleared away the furniture I had remaining in the space, taped off the walls, got out my drop sheets and roller and off I went.... 

From the first swipe of colour on the wall, I knew I had made the right decision and by the time I moved to the second wall, I was in LOVE!!!

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The paint had barely dried and I had to pull this vignette together on the sideboard. It came together so easily and my jaw was on the floor with how absolutely perfect it was! It was more than I had ever hoped for!

Living in a small space, I had been worried that painting 2 walls a darker colour could close the space in....but....my worries were easily appeased and my home instantly felt even more like me! Every time I walk in my front door, a huge smile comes across my face, knowing that I get to call this space home.

Welcome to my new space and stay tuned to see what I have done in the living space to continue to make my city cottage my home!

RR

So Long Summer......

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So where the heck has Summer gone?!?! 

I can't believe it's already September and when I look back at the last few months, I realize how jam packed with fun and great times they were and I'm so very grateful. I'll take you on a photo journey of the Summer of 2017 and all that it held for me, my family and friends.

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I ate some fantastic meals with some wonderful people this Summer. There was a point where I ate at the Bread Bar in Guelph 3 times in a week and a half! One of my favourite ways to spend an evening is with friends, surrounded by great food and drink!

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Not only did I have great meals with friends, I had great times with friends! One of those oh so memorable days was the Queen's Plate at Woodbine in Toronto with some pretty incredible women!!

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Making memories with friends doesn't just happen in restaurants and sports venues, it can also occur in our own backyards! Whether its under a pergola on the deck of my friend's 100 year old home or on a bouncy castle in the yard of a friend who has held her summer bash for 20 years, thinking back on these times bring a huge smile to my face!

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Then there's Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market (and Balzac's). I didn't get there as often as I would have liked to, though I did find other Markets this summer as well, it was always a great way to kick off the weekend!

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I've done a lot of walking this summer (sometimes on my own, sometimes with a friend) and I've been able to truly enjoy the city that I call home. I've watched the gardens transform over the months and as always, admire the beautiful homes/architecture this city has to offer.

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My happy place.....the back deck of my city cottage. Some great stories, laughter and memories were made here this summer. I even fell asleep a few evenings under the stars and the canopy of the trees. It truly is my escape in the ity

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One thing that illustrates to me that the Summer truly got away from me, is the fact that I really only got to the lake once.....yes, only once....and only for a few hours. There was no cottage this year, no swimming in Lake Huron, but, that's ok....there's still September and I enjoy time at the lake just as much (if not even more) now....

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I spent a lot of time with this big guy this summer (isn't he handsome?!) and finally got my photo of him, 'Look Me In The Eye", printed on canvas! If you'd like your own, have a look in my website shop!

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Even though there are around 20 days of Summer left, Labour Day Weekend always feels like the unofficial end to Summer...the sunset of summertime :(

I hope you've all had the Summer that you were hoping for and had the chance to make as many wonderful memories as I did (and am very grateful for). Cheers and so long to the Summer of 2017!

RR

Back in the Saddle...

I pulled into the farm today and as much as LTN and I like to work outside, I decided we'd stay indoors with how the day was heating up. The windows were open, the doors were open and a nice cross breeze was blowing through, so it was pretty much as perfect as we could ask for. 

Since moving to the new farm, the big guy has taken some big strides forward with his training and I'm quite happy with how he's doing and more importantly, I'm extremely happy with how our relationship has/is developing. He's been a part of the family for almost 10 months now and while there has been some back and forth about who the 'boss' is some days, I truly do feel that we are falling in stride with each other. 

Some people know his story and some don't, so let me share.

This guy came into my life through two wonderful women who we're still with today (hence our move to this farm, as they were moving there as the new farm managers). He's 11 years old and is GREEEEN! Up to last summer, he essentially lived his life in a pasture with a mare and their daughter (he was a late geld at age 6). From what I understood, he had very little to no work done with him (up until last August) and he would need to be started from the ground up.

I know our progress may seem slow to some people and that's just fine with me. I'm in no rush and wanted to really establish a trusting and collaborative relationship with him first and foremost. We will never be jumping fences at The Royal (or any competition for that fact) or running barrels at a rodeo. He's my return to the equine world and to be able to take him out on the trails or ride him around the ring through walk/trot/canter is enough. I'd rather take our time and do things properly so both he and I enjoy it and can learn from each other along the way, vs me solely dictating to him. 

He's had someone on his back mayyyybe 15 times now and today was my longest session on him (about 15 minutes). We made it around the arena 3 times!! This is HUGE for a guy, who not matter what cueing you use, pretty much stands still as soon as someone gets on his back (he is absolutely more whoa than go). With A LOT of encouragement and me leaving him to his own timing at times, we did made it around and the smile on my face couldn't have been bigger! He moves forward perfectly on the lunge line and we're working on transitioning to that to the saddle. As you can see in the photo below, I'm currently using a halter and lead rope to guide him when I'm on his back. I have very mixed feelings about introducing a bridle/bit at 11 years old, but it is inevitable if we're wanting to head out on the trails (at least until he is much more seasoned and then I may move to a witless bridle).

Such a great view... #throughtheears..

I will also admit, somedays, I've been nervous to get back into the saddle too. I'm no longer a 17 year old with no fear (and a hockey helmet on my head, that would then climb on a wayyy too energetic 3 year old filly and hold on for dear life) and this 38 year old mind and body is all too conscious of the potential of being sent flying through the air to the dirt. I'm very aware that falling off is part and parcel of riding and I continue to wrap my head around that. I am absolutely amazed how well he is doing with so few rides 'under his belt' and once I'm on, I feel much better about things.

He is one incredible creature and has a 'once in a lifetime' personality and way about him. He's so smart and with that, comes his stubbornness (kinda like his Mom and his other furry brother Charlie). He's playful, caring (he'll literally lick/'kiss' you to death), full of life yet calm (most days) and there's this look he gets in his eyes that brings a huge smile to my face, no matter what. 

I truly feel that finding him was meant to be and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us!

RR

A Mini Moment.....

I think we can all agree that the pace that we move at today can at times be overwhelming! Up at 5am, out the door by six, first conference call at 7:30am, meeting, another meeting, emails, phone calls, trying to leave work on time, go to the gym, get groceries, make dinner, do laundry, clean the house, climb into bed at 10:30pm....and repeat the next day.

I will admit, there are some days where I feel like I can't catch my breath, let alone take a few minutes for myself. I know how unhealthy that is and the irony of this is that I've spent most of my career helping others take care of themselves (insert here: do as I say, not as I do). I then refer back to one of my old blog posts about when on a flight, if something should occur, to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. We MUST care for ourselves first and foremost....

As I was driving to the office the other morning with a dozen different thoughts running through my mind about the day ahead, the sunrise was absolutely beautiful!! So...I decided to pull over into a park, get out of my car with my coffee in hand, turn off those thoughts and just sit and truly enjoy that sunrise for a few minutes. That 'mini moment' not only got my day off to a great start, but refreshed my way of thinking about taking care of oneself.....

Let me explain.....

This guy is the master of taking a 'mini moment'! He had been out sniffing every square foot of the backyard as I was bqqing one night. Then...all of a sudden, he went up on the deck and just laid there, looking around and taking it all in. There...that was his mini moment. He went from 'full steam ahead' to utter peace and tranquility in a matter of a minute.  

Now, how can we do this? How can we take that moment to recoup our sanity, refocus and allow us those few moments to breathe?

I walked into the barn one evening after a great session with the Big Guy. My time with him is supposed to be my escape, a time for me to focus on nothing but building my relationship with this amazing 1000lb creature. But....for some reason, I found myself distracted that night. I was actually angry with myself that I had allowed outside distractions to seep into our time together. As I walked down the aisle, the horses poked their heads out of their stalls and I just had to snap this photo....I had distracted them from their dinner and I'm sure every single one of them hoped I had a  wee treat to share with them (a mini moment for them). I then realized, I had spent an incredible hour with LTN and it had been full of fantastic mini moments and I should be grateful for that! Yes, at times, some outside thoughts and distractions creeped in...but...I'm human...that will happen.... and what mattered most was that time with him, those moments of pure contentedness and tranquility like the one below....

I can assure you that at the moment I snapped this photo, I was only thinking what a beautiful evening it was, how gorgeous my guy looked as the sun set behind him and how grateful I was to be in that moment....and that's enough. I'm sure that in the 5 minutes of him munching grass, I had many other 'outside' thoughts enter my mind, but at this moment, my only thought was pure enjoyment of the moment. My mini moment....

Whatever you're doing...find those mini moments just for you. Enjoy them, immerse yourself in them (if only for a minute), allow them to re-energize you...and.... if you're like me and have a passion for photography, capture a few of them so you 'have them' as a reminder to take that time for you. 

RR

 

 

Spring Has Sprung!

There's something special about the way the light floods into my home that signals Spring has finally arrived.

I was sitting on the couch one day in late April (under a cozy blanket as there was still a wee chill in the air), looking through magazines while sipping on a latte and as I looked around my living room, I noticed 'that light' was filling the room and a huge smile came across my face! SPRING!!

This is from our first sunset at the lake this Spring....we lost Dad two years ago and we started a tradition of going to the lake (one of his favourite places) on his anniversary. It was such a beautiful night and this handsome guy enjoyed the quiet and tranquil evening just as much as Mom and I did.

I'm a huge fan of visiting lake/cottage towns on the 'off season', before they get crazy busy. A good friend and I did a road trip to Muskoka a few weekends ago and we had to stop in Bracebridge to get a closer look at this insanely fast running/crashing water! I posted a video on my Instagram and the sound alone, let a lone the sight of it, was enough to take your breath away!

This is one of my favourite sections of the sideroad, just down the road from the Country House. This span of trees looks amazing in any season, but we happened to drive down literally just as the leaves had 'popped'. Soooo pretty! And....the farm on the right has a Clydesdale foal that I have to stop and say "Hi" to whenever I drive by. 

This is my first Spring with this handsome guy and it's been interesting to watch the transformation of his coat through the seasons. He went really dark, almost black, over the winter, but now that he's shedding his coat (and my goodness, I had forgotten how much fur a draft horse grows for the winter), he's turning back to his reddish/bay colour I knew from last summer. As he was standing there in the rays of the sunset the other evening, I couldn't help but capture this image as it really hilights the beautiful tones of his coat.

Spring is also a time of surprises. Whether it's tulips that randomly sprout up after being 'relocated' by the squirrels, or a plant that made it through the winter that you were afraid wouldn't, it's always fun to see what 'springs up' this time of year. I moved into my home in August and when the next Spring came around and I realized I had this beauty outside of my front door, I literally squealed with delight! From what I can tell, its an ornamental crab apple tree and its blossoms are absolutely GORGEOUS!!!!! Just as they're wrapping up, my beautiful and fragrant Korean Lilac on the other side of my front entryway comes into bloom...... Oh how I LOVE Spring!!!

RR

The Rock...Newfoundland and Labrador!

I sure wouldn't have wanted to be out on these cliffs on the shore of Newfoundland this week as they're experiencing hurricane force winds and a storm of the decade! Seeing all the photos on the news of the beautiful city of St. John's instantly brought me back to a trip I took there last year for a long weekend of fun, the great outdoors, amazing food, fantastic people and lots of memories.

The photo above is from the cliffs at the bottom of Signal Hill. We were there a wee bit early for the icebergs, but they had just started to roll in. You can see one off in the distance in this shot.

We landed and were lucky enough to find a cab driver who took us on a bit of a tour of St. John's on the way to our hotel. I love seeing the sights with a 'townie' who knows the history and the 'out of the way' places that most tourists would miss. We checked in, dropped off our stuff and it was off for dinner. We decided on The Merchant Tavern....and wow, am I ever glad we did! The cocktails, the fresh seafood, the atmosphere and decor, our fantastic server...it was the perfect way to kick off the weekend!

By the time we got to Quidi Vidi, we were ravenous! Everyone we spoke to had recommended we go to Mallard Cottage for lunch and we were soooo lucky to be able to sit at the bar  (they were booked full of reservations)and have an experience/meal that will always rank in my top 5 travel experiences! Let me set the scene...you arrive in this quaint and quintessential east coast village and when you walk up to the green and white building that is Mallard Cottage, it feels so comfortable, like a home away from home. You walk through the door and are instantly enveloped in the coziness and friendliness that is the atmosphere, decor, staff, food and overall experience. You feel like you've been there a hundred times before as you quickly settle in due to the welcoming atmosphere and once you start talking to the incredible staff, trying the absolutely scrumptious food, having a pint (or 3) of their local beer from the Quidi Vidi Brewery, you don't ever want to leave. We could've stayed from lunch all the way to dinner and late into the evening, just chatting with our fellow visitors/tourists, the staff, trying various cocktails and soaking in the laid back and oh so comfortable east coast atmosphere! 

We had a very full first day and I will never, ever forget it!

Our second and final day was jam packed!! We walked around town and were enamoured by the colours of Jelly Bean Row, we went out on the ocean for very chilly but exciting bird, iceberg and whale sight seeing cruise. We saw thousands of Puffins, Minke Whales (a very fleeting glimpse), a few smaller icebergs (the shades of blue were stunning!) and an oil rig en route to Norway (how often do you get to see that?!). We then headed back into town and wandered around the harbour, where we saw these statues of a Newfoundland Dog and Labrador Retriever. They were the perfect symbols of our trip (and I'm biased as they reminded me of Charlie) and a great way to wrap things up before we headed to the airport to catch our flight home.

I can't wait to go back to this exceptionally beautiful province and I feel so grateful to live in a country as beautiful and diverse as ours! Next time, I hope to stay in the new Inn by Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi...they just started to take reservations!  Cheers to travelling and all of the incredible experiences and memories that I will have to keep with me forever!

RR

Get Outside!

I love the great outdoors and every opportunity I have to get outside, I take!

I received a Fit Bit as a gift for my last birthday and it's always such a good feeling when I feel it vibrating on my wrist, notifying me that I've walked my 10,000 steps for the day! A good gal pal and I have been walking around our beautiful city of Guelph (the photo above was taken on new years day at sunset) the past few months and it's so refreshing to get out into the fresh air, spend time with a great friend, learn new things about our city, take a tonne of photos and have the instant energy boost of getting active!

A park up the street is transformed into ice rinks by local residents every winter...

To walk by and hear the laughter, the crunch of skate blades cutting through the ice and to witness a community within a community come together like this brings a huge smile to my face!

And then there's winter at the Country House. This photo was taken a few weekends ago, mid snow storm! 

Charlie (and I) love the snow but as he gets older, the deeper accumulation poses a bit of a challenge for him. As you can see however, this does not hold him back... We get outside and walk every morning and evening, though this time of year, we tend to stick to the lane way when we're in the country.

This makes for much easier walking and he'll lay at the top of the lane and watch the cars and Mennonites go by... The odd bunny or deer may cross the lane too and of course he jumps up, barks like crazy but I think the wild animals know that they'll be just fine as this almost 12 year old guy doesn't move quite as quickly as he used to.

This guy..... any time spent with him means getting outside and getting active. 

Whether it's ground work in the outdoor arena or a walk through the woods to see the mares in the back field, being outside and in his company guarantees an inspiring, energizing and fun time!

I hope you have a chance to get outside this weekend and enjoy at that the great outdoors and physical activity has to offer!

RR