See you in September.....

...See you when the Summer's through....

Is it just me, or has time moved to fast forward mode? It seems like just yesterday it was April, the new deck was being built and I was looking forward to a Summer of sun and fun!

It is now Fall, I have no idea where Summer went (not that it wasn't full of sun and fun), but my gosh, before we know it, it will be Christmas.

Don't get me wrong, I had a great Summer. Lots of things going on, new beginnings, new adventures, time spent with old friends and new friends, but most of all....new memories have been made and for that, I'm grateful!

The first few months of summer are captured below in photos that when I look at them, bring a smile to my face....

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As I mentioned above, it was time for a new deck. A great crew of guys spent 3 days in April, through snow and rain (yes, remember how chilly April was) and built me my gorgeous new sanctuary! I had been waiting 5 years for this so I thought, hey, if I'm getting a new deck, I should likely get some new outdoor furniture too. After a ridiculous amount of research, looking, scouting etc, I ended up with this sectional/dining set from JYSK as well as 2 new loungers. 

Many an afternoon/evening were spent back here, either with friends, family or in perfect solitude. This was truly my early summer hi-light and I'm looking forward to the many years of enjoyment still to come!

It wouldn't be a Southwestern Ontario Summer without time spent at the lake....Lake Huron that is. From Southampton to Port Elgin, Kincardine to Goderich and of course Bayfield, all of these beautiful lake towns were frequented on various weekends.

There were pizza picnics, shopping sprees, sunsets, sand between our toes and the glorious sunshine on the days we got in the car and headed to this body of water that has drawn me to it every year for the past 37 years. I feel very fortunate to have grown up quite close to these towns and this lake and am even more grateful that I still get to enjoy them in all of their glory today!

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Whether it was beside a camp fire, a night at the races or on a golf course, there sure was a lot of laughter (and even a few tears) this summer. We all need more laughter in our lives! From old stories, to crazy horse names, to realllllly bad drives off the tee, it's been really nice to have tears of joy run down my cheeks as I'm surrounded by those that mean the most!

I spent a lot of time with just me, myself and I this Summer too (that does happen when you live by yourself I suppose), but I really do cherish that time to myself. Whether I'm reading, organizing, making lists, planning or just lying in the sun on a lounger on the deck, this time for 'me' is so critical and important. It was a summer that helped me realize what's truly important to me on many levels and evenings spent like the one pictured above on the back patio, have helped me re-focus and realize what matters most!

I hope you all had a wonderful Summer and cheers to the change in seasons ahead!

RR

J'Adore Paris!!

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Does it get any better than Paris in the Springtime? I would say no...it really doesn't....

A gal pal and I had been talking about getting away to Paris for a few months and after seeing so many beautiful photos of Paris in the Spring on our Instagram feeds, we decided it was time to go!

We hopped on a flight Thursday evening and landed Friday morning for 4 unforgettable days in the City of Lights. We took the Roissy Bus to the Opera and after a beautiful walk to our gorgeous hotel, Hotel Bachaumont, we dropped off our bags and began our adventure!

We walked....and walked....and walked (almost 20km our first day)....literally in awe with every, single step! Everything from the cobblestone streets, to the incredibly detailed and jaw dropping architecture, to the Parisian fashion/style, the luscious and manicured gardens, to just experiencing 'that feeling'...we just let it all soak in! 

This is my photo diary of our first day in Paris...one of the most awe-inspiring days I have lived to date!

L'Opera

L'Opera

A cute little flower shop en route to the Hotel...

A cute little flower shop en route to the Hotel...

The Louvre

The Louvre

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As you can see, we covered A LOT of ground...from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower and back. I took hundreds of photos and as I look back, each one brings a huge smile to my face. 

That was a day that I will never forget!

J'adore Paris!

RR

 

 

Character and Charm...

It was a sunny day, I had some new hikers to break in and I decided to go for a walk through the beautiful city that I call home....Guelph.

This city has some beautiful established neighbourhoods and magnificent older homes. I feel very lucky to live in a neighbourhood full of trees, grass, gardens and character. As I set out on my walk, I soon became distracted by the many homes that exude charm, historical beauty and stunning architecture...

Even though the day then started to cloud over, I couldn't help but stop and take photos of these homes (so much for my brisk walk). Here are just a smattering of the homes that truly make this city unique and full of character!

The detail and care taken to maintain these homes is nothing short of amazing. From the slate and/or cedar shake tiles, pillers, turrets, covered porches, trim choice and colour, shutters, brick work, landscaping etc etc....the list goes on and on as to what makes these homes so stunning and inviting. You just don't see architecture like this anymore and it saddens me.... 

I feel very grateful to live in a city where I can walk through neighbourhoods filled with homes that have stories, that have had generation after generation live within their walls. 

If only those walls could talk......

RR

 

 

New York, New York - Part Two!

The first 24 hours in NYC were fantastic and I was bound and determined to make the most of my second and final day there, sore feet or not (That's what happens when you walk over 20km the first day!).

I woke up and headed to a bagel shop around the corner (people were literally lined up out the door). I spoke with a lovely man from Texas while we were waiting in line (who had just happened to be in Guelph on business a few weeks prior...yes, it's a small world!) and after getting all the goodness that comes with a NYC bagel and cream cheese, I headed off to Dean and Deluca for one last caffeine fix. With a latte and bagel in hand, I headed towards Central Park, with a wee detour by Saks 5th Avenue. I had to have one last look at their Christmas windows!!

Saks 5th Avenue

Saks 5th Avenue

Tiffany's

Tiffany's

I then kept heading north towards the Park and literally had Breakfast at Tiffany's! 

Every time I'm in NYC, I go to Tiffany's and get myself a little something as a momento. Their windows were absolutely gorgeous and you  can't help but get into the holiday cheer when you're surrounded by such beautiful creations! THE, yes THE Tiffany Yellow Diamond was there too and it literally took my breath away! I was completely mesmerized ......

After picking out my piece and taking one last look around magic that is Tiffany's, I headed out to the Park. It was such a beautiful day, with the sun shining and the crazy warm weather, I just couldn't believe it! I felt like I had hit the jackpot!

I spent almost the entire day at the park...wandering, sitting, strolling....just letting all of the NYC goodness sink in! From the skating rink, to the lake (and there were people out in boats..in December!!), to the trees, the artists, the people, the sunshine.....I was in heaven!

After a few hours in the Park, I left with an absolutely goofy grin on my face....it has to be one of my favourite bits of NYC...the touch of country green space in the big city. 

I was off to meet a friend of a friend who took me on a fantastic tour through the city, down to Grand Central where we tried the Whispering Gallery, had samosas, drank in the architecture & history and enjoyed the 'hum' of people moving through the station en route to who knows where. She was a wealth of information about the city and it's buildings and the stories she was able to share were fantastic! It was the perfect way to wrap up my trip!

It was then back to the hotel to gather by bags and wait for the car to the airport....

I sat in this gorgeous little parkette across the street from the hotel, closed my eyes and let the city sink in for one last time.

I can't wait to get back to this wonderful city and I'm so grateful to have had the 48 hours there and all that they were filled with!

See you soon NYC!!

RR

New York, New York!!

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I had a few vacation days to use before Christmas, so I decided to take a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday off. Wednesday I took some 'me' time and did some reading, a Robin Sharma webinar on 'Game Changers' and then I began to look at some old photos.... I kept going back to the ones of NYC as it had been a few years since I was there. 

 And then it dawned on me, between Robin's words on optimization & moving towards the future and the photos, I thought to myself ....Why not go back?? So.....off to the bank I went and after almost fainting at having to pay $140 Canadian for $100 American, I booked a flight and a hotel room and at 6:00am Thursday morning, I was off to the Big Apple.

After landing, my first stop after dropping my luggage at the hotel was Rockefeller Centre to watch the skaters and have my first Dean & Deluca of the trip.

From Rockefeller it was then off to the Bryant Park Market where I sat and continued to watch the skaters there till the little boutiques opened and I could wander through and check out their wares. It was then off to stroll the High Line (LOVE it!). Such an amazing concept to turn something that likely would've been demolished and turn it into such a wonder space. By then it was time for lunch...I was in the West Village and decided to try Barbuto. I sat on their patio (it was December 10, the sun was shining and it was 15 degrees Celsius so of course I had to!), enjoyed a glass of wine, some amazing pizza right out of their wood fired oven, capped it all off with a cappuccino and then it was time to start walking again.

I then walked along the Hudson River all the way down to Ground Zero.... It was the absolute most perfect day to be outside and just enjoy the city.

The last time I was in NYC, they were just starting to rebuild One World Trade and the 9/11 Memorial Pools were under way. Every time I'm there it takes my breath away, my eyes well up with tears and I cannot get over the enormity of the space and how that day changed our world forever. After sitting there amongst the trees they've replanted and the hundreds of others there to pay their respects, I then began my walk back up to Mid Town (right past the Chrysler Building) to my hotel to rest a bit before dinner. 

As it turns out, I walked well over 20km that day and my feet were ready for a bit of a break! 

I was meeting a friend for dinner who happened to be in town for business. Every time I'm in NYC, I MUST have an Ugly Burger so I suggested that we head to The National (also because my feet were now throbbing and it was just around the corner!). We sat there, shared a bottle of wine, dove into our burgers and and got caught up.It was nice to see a familiar face after a day spent with strangers.

We were both pretty tired so after  a long day, so back to the hotel I went to relax and get some sleep so I could get an early start on day two. It was so great to be back in that city....and I couldn't have been more happy with my last minute decision to travel there!

Stay tuned for another post on my second day of my 48 hours in NYC!

RR

 

A Lot Can Happen In A Year!

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2015..

A year I will never, ever forget... a lot sure can happen in a year.

A year of heartache, new beginnings, new paths being built, time spent in the country, time spent in the city, time with family, time with friends, tears, laughter and reflection...

I want to say a HUGE "Thank you" to family and friends for your love and support this year. I can honestly say that you have all been what has kept me going on many occasions this year..... Again.... Thank you! xoxo

The photo above is a snapshot of my 2015 and it not only reflects the year that has happened, but the year to come ahead too....

Time spent with friends, time spent outdoors, time at home, healthy living, my Charlie Bear, diving into home decor inspiration and liking the small joys that a simple life brings.

I plan on continuing to live a simple life, enjoying the little things, making memories and really embracing life and living it! Every single moment!

2015, you prepared me for just about anything life could throw at me.

I've grown personally and professionally. I've developed a few more life lines (ie. wrinkles) and a thicker skin. There has been much laughter and many tears. Through it all, I've remained me and have hopefully become a better version of me.

Cheers to the year ahead....2016, I'm ready for you!!

RR

 







5 Years....

I can't believe I've been blogging for 5 years..... 

5 years..... Half a decade..... 

As I look back through the memories, posts and events, I experience every emotion possible. It is the ultimate roller coaster ride and I'm so grateful to have this online journal, my story, full of joy, sorrow, happiness, sadness, excitement, disappointment, hellos and goodbyes....

Blogging hasn't just been a way  for me to capture stories and memories, blogging has actually facilitated and allowed quite a few of those memory making events to occur. If I hadn't started blogging, so many wonderful people would not have entered my life and if there's one thing I cherish other than the journal of memories my blog has created, it is the friendships that have formed because of how people share the love of creativity, writing and inspiring others.

 

I never would have guessed that four years ago when I moved into my city cottage that there'd be 5-6 other bloggers within a 4 minute walk and these gals are some of the most amazing women you'll ever meet. I'm so blessed to have them as sounding boards,sources of inspiration and most importantly, friends.

We sit in each other's living rooms, on each other's decks or in restaurants and pubs, brunching, munching, drinking, sharing, venting, motivating, brainstorming, laughing, crying, having moments of strength, moments of weakness and most of all, we unconditionally help each other grow and get to that next step.

I can say with absolute certainty that I could not have made it through the past 4 years without these amazing women (and all of my other friends for that matter) and I thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for all of the "absolute wonderfulness" you've brought to my life.

I've sat at this desk,surrounded by inspiration, and written many posts. Almost everything in that room is a source of inspiration for me, from the desk my brother made me, to notes from friends, to the quotes on the wall. I can't help but feel like creating when I'm in that space.

That's another great thing about blogging....Very few blog posts are completed without photos, so in addition to having memories in the written form, I also have them in the photographic form as well.

Whenever I need a 'pick me up', I look through my photo album on my phone and a smile comes to my face. The day at the beach, a stunning sunrise/sunset, Charlie snoozin' on the couch, a scrumptious dinner, a great home decor find at the market...every one of those photos holds some sort of significance and to be able to share them but also keep them for posterity on the blog means a lot to me.

I think I get my love of photography from my Dad. He never went far without a camera in his hand and I will cherish the photos he took forever.

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One of my favourite things about blogging is developing the story behind the post and the various ways to share that post once it has been polished to the point of hitting the "publish" button.

Most of my posts start with a photo and develop from there. For instance, the photo above is one I took on a hike in Kananaskis Alberta. The photo summed up the elements of the day perfectly (the spectacular beauty, the rugged terrain underfoot, the towering mountains still covered in snow that slowed out climb, the crisp blue sky) and the post literally just rolled out from under my fingertips. I wanted to share every minute of that day and the exhilaration I felt with every step up that mountainside.

Once the post is up, let the fun begin by sharing it with others. From posting more photos on Instagram to writing a blurb on Facebook and even 'tweeting' on Twitter, the word needs to get out that a new post is up and ready for review! To say I'm mildly addicted to certain social media platforms is a very safe statement to make. I must say that Instagram is my favourite, as a 2 minute flip through, and 'hearting' photos is one of the best mid day pick ups one could have!

Perhaps my biggest 'fan' (and the world's best proofreader - aka retired English Teacher) is my Mom. I bounce so many ideas off her; she keeps me true to the written form as it should be (though I do sneak in a few "Ardis-isms' here and there) and I value her feedback more so than anyone else. Cheers to you Ma and the next 5 years of our journey!

Thank you too to the publications, individuals, friends and fellow bloggers who have shared my work over the past 5 years. Seeing your name in print or hearing how your work has inspired others never, ever gets old...and it makes your heart beat a little faster in sheer happiness!

And then there's Charlie...My furry, four legged, tail wagging muse.... The creature that always brings a smile to my face.....The "retrieval" in Rustic Retrievals... I can't imagine the last 5 years (actually 10 years) without him as my sidekick!

At the end of the day, first and foremost, I blog for me... for myself. It is an outlet, a way to capture memories, a way I hope to inspire others, a way to share ideas...and as I mentioned above, it's my story to the world. I can't wait to see what the next 5 years have to bring and I hope you continue to join me for the ride!!!

RR

Meat, Cheese, Meat, Cheese...and Olives!

I was out with friends for dinner at one of my favourite restaurants in Guelph, OX, and we ordered some wine, their Fried Olives and a Charcuterie Board to begin our meal.  The hard and soft cheeses along with the spicey and smokey meats, mixed with the salty olives, crusty baguette and sweet mustard allows for a perfect taste sensation with every combo you put together. The chef at OX regularly changes up the combinations of the meats and cheeses on their boards and you can always be sure that what they serve is of the utmost quality and flavour as they're able to source their product from Ouderkirk & Taylor (a specialty food store in Guelph, who shares owners with OX).

There are days that I would be happy to only eat meats and cheeses for every meal...throw in a bit of crusty bread & olives and I'd be in heaven. Growing up, we were a family of grazers and most weekends, we'd watch sports or movies with a spread of meats from the butcher (Greens Meat Market in Wingham) and cheeses from local cheese shops (Pine River Cheese outside of Kincardine). 

We were planning a gals brainstorming get together and as I was inspired by my meal at OX, I decided I was going to bring some meats and cheeses. I headed out to my favourite local gourmet market.... Market Fresh to stock up on yummy goodness. 

I filled my basket with hard and soft cheeses. I chose a Jalapeno Chedder, a Herb and Garlic hard cheese and a soft and creamy goat's milk cheese. I then headed to the deli counter and selected a Spicy Salami, a Sopresatta (another spicy option) and a sentimental favourite, Noah Martin Summer Sausage. I asked that they be sliced quite thinly (almost the thickness of shaved, but not quite that thin) and they came out perfectly! I then wandered over to their olive bar and chose some green and black olives with feta cheese in oil. Then it was time to decide on crackers....I chose Table Water Crackers and some scrumptious sweet/savoury Raincoast Crisps in Fig & Olive. 

I grabbed a few more items (freshly baked Chive & Feta Scones and fresh flowers) and headed home to prepare my 'board'. Instead of a rustic board, I decided to use a crystal platter.... I cut, arranged, taste tested and ended up with this as the final result....

I was so glad to be able to taste test a wee bit as I put this together as my mouth was absolutely watering in anticipation of fully diving in!

The spicy meat, combined with the sweet/savoury crackes and soft cheese.....or the summer sausage with the jalapeno cheddar and an olive.....the flavour combinations were endless!

I wandered next door and our afternoon of brainstorming and snacking began! Of course, we had to snap some photos of the 'spread' before we dove in! 

I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon then with gal pals, having great conversations while snacking on scrumptious food (complete with Caesars)!

Whether you're planning on having some friends over or are feeling like having a 'loungey' Sunday afternoon on the couch with yummy snacks, here are a few tips for putting your own charcuterie board/platter together:

  • Use only quality ingredients. Find a local shop or market that you can count on for consistent quality and a wide selection.
  • Use only fresh ingredients. If you can go to the market the morning/day of your party or lounge session, I believe having the meat and cheese as fresh as possible makes a huge difference.
  • Use products you're familiar with, but don't be afraid to try something new too! I take an 80-20 approach. I use 80% of products I am familiar with and know will never disappoint and the other 20% allows for me to experiment and try something new. I tend to ask the staff at the market for their suggestions and see what they recommend too.
  • Use a variety of textures and flavours. Spicy and smokey meats, hard and creamy cheeses, sweet and savoury crackers....This ensures that the board will appeal to a wide variety of people and allows them to try something a bit outside of their comfort zone.
  • Try some 'add ons'. Olives just naturally marry with meats and cheeses, but you could also introduce fruit (fresh or dried), spreads/mustards or even pickles/pickled veggies. These bring another dimension of flavour and other textures to the board.
  • Have fun! These board/platters are supposed to be rustic and organic...whether served on a wooden board or crystal platters. How you decide to present your selections is absolutely up to you and don't be worried about making the presentation 'too perfect'!

Cheers to getting back to basics.... Meat, cheese, meat, cheese...and olives!

RR


5 Things That Make Me Happy!

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What makes you happy?! How do you get the most out of your life!?

I made my list and these are 5 simple things that I am already doing that make me the most happy in my day-to-day living (and thankfully, I didn't have to do too much adjusting):

1. Get Outdoors

2. Spend Time with Gal Pals..and Guy Pals

3. Get Active

  • I like to mix this with being outdoors as often as possible. Whether it's hitting the slopes, taking to the trails for a hike, walking Charlie or hitting the links for a round of golf, I really enjoy being active. Being active is also another way to spend time with friends. We have an annual Ski Bunny Weekend that lets us get together, get caught up and get active all in one weekend. Getting more active is something I do need to adjust....I need to add more activity into my life. I'm going to be starting a new exercise class (that I can't wait to try) and I have been walking in the evenings with the goal of walking 5km per day as often as possible (with the end goal of jogging 5km at least 3 times per week by my birthday).

4. Try Something New

  • Whether it's a new restaurant, a new exercise class or a new recipe, I truly believe that being open to trying new things really does allow for ever evolving happiness. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut so when you find yourself feeling like that, why not grab a gal pal and try that new resto in town (like I did by heading to the Bread Bar in Guelph) or challenge yourself with a different workout. I appreciate that change can be difficult, but think of these things as new experiences, new adventures and you just never know what new activity, food, person etc you may fall in love with!

5. Always Have Fresh Flowers In Your Home

  • Something as simple as fresh flowers (whether it be the $10 grocery store bouquet or a $60 bunch from a local flower shop) always brings a smile to my face as I walk in the door after a days work or when I wake up to them in the morning. It's a simple and relatively inexpensive way (ie. $10/wk) to bring colour and cheer into your home.

These are all things that bring happiness to my life, but as we all know, sometimes life gets away from us and these things somehow get moved down on the priorities list (which in turn can have unhappy consequences). In order to ensure what makes you happy is ever present in your life, this is one of my favourite things to do to always keep reminding myself of this:

  • Put it in your calendar!! Yes, schedule those weekend plans with friends well in advance. This gives you something to look forward to and ensures it happens. The same goes for things like workouts/physical activity. It's so easy to come home at the end of the day, plop on the couch and call it a night. If I have something written in my calendar, it holds me accountable to it and I'm MUCH more likely to get my butt off the couch and go for that walk. 

I recommend making this list of 5 'things' (or 10 things) for all aspects of your life (ie. your career, your family, life in general etc) and see how these lists either flow together or compliment each other. Being happy doesn't have to take a lot of money or be difficult. It just takes time to let yourself realize what these 'things' are that get you to your happy place and sustaining them so you maintain that level of happiness you deserve!

RR

Let's Get Physical!

Let's get physical...and no, I don't mean '50 Shades of Grey' physical...I mean let's get up off the couch and get moving!

This time of year has to be the most difficult time to get motivated to exercise. The snow is flying outside, it's freezing cold and it's so easy to just cocoon indoors, curled up under blankets on the couch.

I'm the first to admit, I'm not nearly as active as I should be...or once was. I look back and I literally grew up in arenas and on the ice as I figure skated from the age of 3 all through university. I skated at least 3 days a week, some days 6 hours a day. I also coached, starting with volunteer coaching when I was 11 or 12 and moved into professional coaching around the age of 16, which carried me all through university. I've coached 2-3 year old to people in their 70's. That's what I love about skating...it's an activity that can span the ages.

I got back on the ice for the first time in a few years over the holidays....it felt so AMAZING to lace up my skates and hear the 'crunch' of the blade against the ice as it carves out the edges. My centre of gravity sure has changed over the years, but it doesn't take long to get back into the swing of things. I used to LOVE spinning...sit spin, cork screw spin, camel spin, layback etc...and after trying a few, I wonder how the heck I ever did them as I was sooooooo dizzy afterwards!

Skating is such great exercise! It's a full body activity that allows you to work on your aerobic capacity, flexibility and muscular strength. It's so dynamic and creative and I because of this, I think that's why I've never really taken to running on a treadmill or really any type of machine based cardio. If I'm going to get active, I tend to like to be doing something more dynamic, like going for a hike versus running indoors. Skiing, skating, hiking, roller blading, snow shoeing....now that's my kind of exercise! The great thing about these exercises is that they're not only dynamic, but they can also be done outdoors (and I just love being outdoors).

 

I believe that's the key about physical activity. You have to find what type of activity or exercise you enjoy and in doing so, you will be so much more successful in achieving your health and fitness goals. Also, if you can get active with a friend, even better! You can hold each other accountable and offer support and motivation on those days that the couch is looking better then lacing up your running shoes.

I'll be posting more about exercise and physical activity on the blog as I continue to grow and expand RR to incorporate a Body Life and Style into my brand and scope of services offered......

I also challenge you to get active this month! Take pictures of you and your friends/family getting active  by hiking, walking the dog, skating, hitting the gym etc etc and post them to Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #RRBodyLifeStyle. Keep posting them until March 15th and the winner will win a personalized home exercise program, designed by me, based on your top 3 health and fitness goals ( a value of $75.00).

If you have health and  fitness questions or would like to get started in living a more active lifestyle, as a Registered Kinesiologist (and former Personal Trainer), I'd be happy to help! Just send me an email to rusticretrievals@gmail.com and we can get started!

Make a pledge to yourself to get off the couch and get active this weekend...and seeing as it's Family Day Weekend here in Ontario, why not get your entire family involved! And remember...share those pictures for your chance to win!

#RRBodyLifeStyle

RR