2016 - A Year in Review - January to June


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!


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!


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


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


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!


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!


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.


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!







The Barley Vine Rail Co.

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A friend and I were famished and were looking for a great place to have a late lunch/early dinner while in Orangeville. We walked through the front door of The Barley Vine Rail Co and were met by this rustic bar, complete with a tin ceiling, industrial light fixtures, original wood, a wide variety of wine and a fantastic selection of beer on tap!

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After a very thorough review of the menu (both food and cocktail versions), we decided on our meals and a pint. Next time I'm there, I'm definitely going to have the Derby Manhattan (I LOVE Manhattans and really enjoy trying them at different establishments).


We started with DEEP FRIED PICKLES to share.....Absolutely DELISH! (I could have eaten another entire order all on my own!)

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Then these scrumptious mains arrived....I had the MADE FROM SCRATCH Perogies and Caesar Salad. Oh...My...Gosh..... Words cannot explain how fantastically great these perogies are (if they every decide to sell them, I'll be buying DOZENS). The Caesar salad was perfect! The house-made dressing was light and full of flavour (love the garlicy undertone) and the bacon pieces, croutons, parmesan and a squeeze of lemon just completed it! My friend had the Bison Burger (sans bun) with Fries cooked in duck fat..... My mouth is watering just thinking of these dishes!


We somehow still had some tummy space for these oh-so-yummy mini desserts (can you blame 2 gals that hadn't eaten since breakfast and it was now well past 5?)

Our meals were fabtabulous and I cannot wait to go back to try even more menu items (there were at least 5 or 6 that immediately jumped out at me, but every single item looked and sounded great!)

Not only was the food amazing, but the decor, design aesthetic and atmosphere was too!

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Seeing as this was Orangeville's train/railway station at one point in the past, the building exuded history and charm, but also had a rustic and industrial edge to it as well. The original wood trim around the huge windows, mixed with the exposed HVAC and industrial light fixtures were the perfect decor combo!

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Pieces of this restaurant's story and history were spread through the space.... There truly is something special about these small town Ontario railway stations and the historical value they bring to their communities!

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The tall ceilings, dark walls, large windows, wood trim and metallic finishes all bring a certain kind of coziness and warmth to the space and allow for an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. It's the kind of space that you really don't want to leave!

The details are all there too.....Such as the paddle hanging over the bar, signed by everyone who attended their grand opening; that tin ceiling (*mwah*), those light fixtures (double *mwah*).....there are just so many to mention...I think you need to go have a look for yourself!

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The custom sign by the bar catches your eye as soon as you walk in! The staff also all wear custom hoodies and T's with their extremely clever and eye catching logo (LOVED them!). Oh, and by the way, their branding is SPOT ON....note the beaver (BVR) in the front of the train (Railway station)! Brilliant!!

But what's even more brilliant is what this establishment has already brought to this town...and I don't just mean great food! They had an evening to raise funds for the local SPCA (a cause near and dear to my heart) and everyone who donated $50 received a personalized plaque (as above) that are fastened to the back of every bar stool and chair. What an absolutely AMAZING idea that not only warmed by heart, but also reminded me how so very important it is to give back, especially in a 'small town'. 

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To me, a restaurant/bistro can have fantastic food, but if they don't have the staff to match, I won't go back!

Well let me tell you, the staff at Barley Vine Rail Co are reason enough to go to this bistro and the wonderful food, drink and atmosphere just make your experience there absolutely complete!

Ryan (the owner), Debbie and Megs were DA BOMB!!! Their enthusiasm is contagious and those smiles just show you how much they truly love this piece of their community they have created. I've said it previously and I'll say it again....You will not want to leave this establishment once you arrive, but, when you do have to finally go, I know you'll go back....often!

Thank you to you all for making our first time at your bistro/pub a wonderful experience, for all 5 of the senses!

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The next time you're in Orangeville, you MUST plan to make a stop at The Barley Vine Rail Co! They're at 35 Armstrong St, just off of the main street. I cannot wait to go back for some more tres yummy food, to try that Manhattan and to see/socialize with the incredible staff!

I think a road trip is in order!

P.S. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter to ensure you are kept aware of all of their upcoming events!