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

Photography is a Love Affair with Life!

I love to capture moments in time to be able to remember them forever. I have always enjoyed photography and the smile that comes across my face as I look through old photos and memories they stir that come flowing back.

If you follow me on Instagram (if you don't, you should!) you will know that after a lot of encouragement from family, friends and fellow home décor enthusiasts, I have added a "Shop" section to my website to allow you to purchase my photo prints, canvases and photography services.

I'm re-vamping my gallery wall today and to be able to look at these prints and re-visit these breathtaking views of the world around us is inspiring! Whether it's Notre Dame surrounded by Cherry Blossoms or the shore of Lake Huron at sunset with the waves crashing in, as much as these photos hold memories for me, they also illustrate the magnificence of these stunning locales, which in turns adds beauty to the home of those who hang these pieces of art. 

Through my website Shop, you can purchase separate prints and I'm now happy to offer collections that will almost instantly help you start your own gallery wall!

I'm also holding a giveaway on Instagram where you can win one of my prints. Be sure to pop over and check it out!

I'll leave you with this.....

" Photography is the art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them." - Elliott Erwitt

RR

A New Year....

I have a mixed bunch of responses to the questions above as I look ahead into 2017. Parts of me say Yes and parts of me say No. Self improvement is a cornerstone of my existence but at the same time, when is good enough, good enough?

When I start really delving into something like this, one of my favourite Pearl Jam songs comes to mind...."Just Breathe"......

I can always be stronger and kinder, but I'm already strong and kind. I've experienced a lot of hard earned success in my 37 years, but I can always be better...Life can always be better and life is what we make it!

So...I'm deciding to do both. Be happy and content with the person I am today while also striving to be an even better me. Compassion, caring, kindness, happiness, strength.....I can say with 100% confidence I am and exude those features/attributes, yet, there is always room for improvement.

As long as I keep this smile on my face....keep breathing.... I can and will decide to be better...to get better....

Am I looking forward to the new year ahead?.....Heck yes!! We're already one month in and reflecting back on the past 28 days, I've already learned, grown and become stronger.

Our lives are what they make them and I choose to make mine the absolute best it can be!

RR

2016 - A Year in Review (Part 2) - July to December

JULY

Canada 2016 was a veryyyy chilly day, but we decided to head to the lake anyways. It was veryyyy weird to be the only people (yes, the ONLY people) on the beach in Port Elgin on the July 1st holiday. No matter the weather however, Lake Huron will always lure me to it.....always...

We celebrated a wonderful friend with a night at the races. We didn't 'win big' from a monetary perspective (we mainly placed bets based on the names of the horses), but it was a HUGE win to be able to spend her special day with her and her family.

My backyard continues to come together nicely and I was able to add some fantastic details with yard sale finds (or should I say steals?!). Last years fence looks great, the mulch settled in nicely, the plants I re-planted all survived (thank goodness) and I can now officially call this my sanctuary.

AUGUST

This was a much warmer day along the shore of Lake Huron in the town of Kincardine. If you walk to the very end of the boardwalk, you get to a section of beach that has HUGE pieces of driftwood.....I just couldn't help myself! (and I really wish I could have sneaked them home in my truck....but oh well, better to leave them for everyone to enjoy).

 

On a rainy Saturday morning, I took a wee road trip to a city I used to call home....Burlington. In between rain showers I wandered along the pier, visited the bakery that Charlie and I frequented every Saturday morning and stumbled upon this amazing store on Brant St called Centro Garden. As you can see in the photo above, from their home décor pieces, to their housewares, to their garden centre....I'll take one of each please!!

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And then there's this guy....from the moment I laid eyes on that handsome face, I knew he had to be mine. This is Light the Night (aka Lightning) and he has brought so much happiness to my life, I can't even put it into words. He's a 16hh draft cross (Percheron + Paint) and I swear that somehow, Charlie's personality was morphed into this horse! Just like Char, he's so stubborn yet so smart, he's such a kind and gentle creature and those eyes...he can be trying my patience to almost the tipping point and then he gets 'that look' and I forget really quickly how frustrated I am....Welcome to the family big guy!

SEPTEMBER

So you can’t have a horse without tack, therefore, I headed to Pleasant Ridge in Brantford to get everything I needed for Lightning. I grew up mainly riding Western and seeing as my guys is quite green (ie. Only been ridden a dozen times), I thought we’d start out with what I was comfortable with and go from there. Doesn’t he look dashing?!

Mom and I travelled to Stratford to see my Grama after she had surgery and on our way home, we stopped to take in the stunning gardens along the river (and maybe have an ice cream cone too). If you’ve never been to Stratford, you need to put it on your ‘to visit’ list for 2017! It’s a beautiful and historically significant town with so much to offer (shows at the Theatre, amazing restaurants, local artisans/shops and magnificent character homes).

If you’re a regular follower on Instagram, you know how much I love to photograph sunsets. This one was taken at the farm, just as the sky was clearing after a rainy day. Such a gorgeous late summer/early fall evening!

OCTOBER

I’m not easily surprised, but these two absolutely succeeded in doing so, having me in happy tears with the biggest grin on my face for hours! Cheers to these two incredible people, their new life together and the amazing new chapter that will start for them in 2017!

I had to stop and snap this photo one the way out to the farm one morning. The sky is the most spectacular blue in the Fall and those colours popping against it….oh wow!! I just couldn’t resist capturing it!

We celebrated the most important woman in my life in October as she hit a milestone birthday and we were able to celebrate in the most idyllic and tranquil setting thanks to my brother and his amazing lady friend (her family cottage). It was a perfect way to spend Mom’s birthday (Minions and all) …Thank you soooooo much Anne-Marie and Mike!!

NOVEMBER

I attended The Royal this year and was so lucky to be able to see this vivacious gal and her pony put on quite the show in the ring! I enjoy everything about The Royal, from the horse shows, to the vendors, to behind the scenes in the barn…it was a fantastic day of experiencing ‘country in the city’.

Charlie and I really enjoy our morning walks at the Country House. This was a frosty morning, just as the sun was rising. Fall is my favourite time of year and this photo captures why.

With over 7000 photos on my phone and with some prompting from family and friends, I re-opened my Etsy shop to be able to share my photo prints with everyone. The collection will continue to grow into the new year and thank you to you all for your support!

DECEMBER

Every year that I decorate at the Country House, I have this guy as my helper. He keeps me company as we walk around the property, collecting greenery and other décor pieces and always has to pose in the final shot, once the job is complete!

I made my rustic chic wreaths again this year and it was by far my most successful year yet! Soooo many orders allowed me to really get creative and I thank you to my returning and new clients for their support and incredibly positive feedback. I just love making people smile and creating a one of a kind piece for their home.

Oh Christmas tree….you’re always there to help round out the year and bring shimmer and shine to our home over the holidays. I really enjoyed basking in its glow this year….thanks Mom!

Looking back, all I can say is ‘Wow, what a year!’. I hope you’ve had as great a year as I have and I wish you the best for 2017! 

RR

2016 - A Year in Review - January to June

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Welcome to my 2016 Year in Review!

I decided to split it into two posts as it has truly been a jam packed year, with so much to share/remember!

JANUARY

The year started off with a bit of a snow storm at the Country House. As you can see, Charlie (and his Mom) didn't let a little snow hold them back from getting outside and enjoying the Winter weather!

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We had our annual Gals Weekend at The Rock in Port Elgin and decided to spend an afternoon at MacGregor Point Provincial Park to do some hiking and some skating on their outdoor skating loop through the forest! What an amazing day/weekend!

January (and actually many more months this year) reminded and illustrated to me that life has a wonderful way of showing us that the ones we love are always with us, no matter what! I had had a bracelet made last Christmas with a set of antlers engraved on it to remind me of my Dad (he was quite the outdoorsman). As Charlie and I were out for a walk down the laneway one January morning at the Country House, something peaking out of the snow along the freshly plowed side of the lane caught my eye (thankfully I also inherited my Dad's keen eye). I bent down to pick up what I found to be this shed antler.....I couldn't contain my excitement and literally ran up the lane to show Mom. If that plow had been just a few inches further over, this would've been caught in the plow and I never would have found it. Thank you Dad, for reminding us you are always with us! xo

FEBRUARY

I did quite a bit of travel early in the year, for both work and pleasure. Work-wise (for my 9-5), I had staff across the country and I was lucky enough to travel to Vancouver and Montreal to meet with them and enjoy those cities.  I always have and always will love travelling and you'll see more of my travels coming up in the next few months.

In addition to travel, I also love to get outside. We have an annual Ski Bunny Weekend at Blue Mountain in Collingwood which is always a blast! This year it was a bit rainy and we didn't really hit the slopes, but it didn't stop us from wandering around the Village and downtown Collingwood. This has to be one of my favourite 'small towns' in southern Ontario. We already have our 2017 trip booked and I can't wait!

I had the pleasure to get to know even better and work with an amazing woman this year who is not only an inspiring entrepreneur, but also a great friend! My friends and family mean the world to me and I feel so incredibly blessed to have people in my life who are so generous, thoughtful and caring! You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important! xo

MARCH

And then there's this guy! My year in review wouldn't be complete without including my Charlie. He turned 11 on March 5th and even with his majestic grey beard, he's still a puppy at heart. He has brought so much love and laughter to our family....he truly is one of the most special creatures I've ever had in my life! Love you Char Bear!

Lake Huron didn't freeze over in the winter of 2015/2016 and it was a beautiful, sunshiny, but chilly day at the Goderich beach. Mom and I had a pizza picnic that day (in the car) and Charlie and I got to go for a walk on the beach. It was surreal to have sand under our feet (vs snow) in March at the lake. I love this picture at it perfectly juxtaposes summer/winter, with the lifeguard stand and the snow fence...you have to love life at the lake!

I'm a gal who really enjoys a great coffee and on my Saturday morning trips to the Guelph Farmers Market, I like to stop into one of the many great little coffee shops downtown. One of my favourites is Balzac's and it's a favourite for many reasons, in addition to it's amazing java! Their decor is spot on, the staff is super friendly and they have a small down/small business type of focus/feel. I also grind and brew their coffee at home too (thanks Anne-Marie and Mike). Cheers to another year of great coffee!

APRIL

Not only does Guelph have great coffee shops, it's also a food lovers 'go to' for amazing restaurants. This is one of my favourite brunch (well really any meal, but especially brunch) spots in town, 39 Carden Street Bistro. Our bloggers group has enjoyed their scrumptiousness and has written about this establishment in the past and my friends and I enjoy their wares quite frequently. On the day pictured, a friend and I were out for brunch, planning a grand adventure.

Speaking of grand adventures......a good friend and I traveled to the City of Lights in April....talk about a trip of a lifetime! We stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel, immersed ourselves in the Parisian lifestyle and had our breath taken away on more than one occasion by this absolutely stunning city and its architecture. It truly was the grandest of grand experiences!

Back home, after 5 years and a few wobbles, it was time for a new back deck! I was lucky enough to have a wonderful crew build this stunner for me and you'll have to wait and see how it all came together for a summer of fun and entertaining!

MAY

My bestie and I went to see these guys.....my favourite band (Pearl Jam) and THE man, Mr. Eddie Vedder, with a voice unlike any other! It was an evening to remember....and we even stayed at the King Edward (a lil play on Eddie) in downtown Toronto!

May also means it's time to start gardening! I always make my own planters/urns and I needed to replace some perennials in the front garden this year too. I just love gardening...it gets me outside, away from the computer and the end result is always so rewarding. 

Welcome to my Summer oasis! I'm so very happy with how this turned out and after many great days/nights back here this past summer, I can't wait for next summer and making more memories surrounded by fairy lights, under the canopy of the walnut trees.

JUNE

Some very special ladies gave me this mug and if you follow my on Instagram, you will see that it is definitely one of my favs! I use the word 'holistic' A LOT (they can attest to this) and we were always going a million miles a minutes (hence the needs to hustle), so it's absolutely perfect!

Just before I switched jobs in a June, a gal pal and I squeezed in a weekend trip to St. John's Newfoundland.

We fell in love with this province....its stunning landscape, its incredible friendly people, its delicious food and beverages.....we hiked everywhere, enjoyed some of the best meals I've ever had, saw icebergs and Puffins and I can't wait to go back!

What better way to kick off the summer (and wrap up the first six months of 2016), then with great friends, amazing food, a beautiful backyard, a bonfire, laughter, LOTS of wine and a celebration of some amazing women! 

Cheers to the first six months and stay tuned for another post of what the rest of the year had in store for me!

RR