Summer of Revelations

I have learned a lot this summer. About myself and life in general. I’d say that I am sad that summer is coming to a close but that would be a lie. I am elated at the prospect of change. Change of the season to Autumn, change of daily routine, and change in temperature. I respond well to change, I think. It keeps me on my toes and makes everything  fresh!

 

 

I never thought of myself as a Being of Summer. Boy, how things have changed. The heat and humidity are not high on the fun-factor scale for me but I can deal with it which I never used to be able to. This summer I have developed the look I always sought when younger but could never accomplish; hair bleached by the sun, tanned limbs and absorbing vitamin D in the form of sunshine like nobody’s business! This really hit home when my Grannie said to me a week or so ago, “You are definitely an outdoor girl.”  I used to be the girl who hid from the sun to keep my  pale skin from freckling and turning the shade of a cooked lobster. Now I work in the sunshine daily and am trying to be smart about precautions while maintaining reality. I certainly don’t spend my days off laying in the sun!

 

 

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things…

I play with leaves.

I skip down the street

and run against the wind.”

– Leo Buscaglia

Yesterday, I realized something quite extraordinary – I am only twelve pounds away from the weight I was throughout high school! Mind you, after having two children, the joy of passing time, and working a very physically-demanding job my body shape has changed significantly (for the better, I think). So, I plan on saying goodbye to those clinging twelve pounds before the end of this work season and accomplishing a task I had never thought was all that important until now since I am so very close to accomplishing it. Weight in terms of the scale is not all that important to me but how my body responds to exertion through work and play is paramount. I have become strong and more defined muscle-wise over the past two work seasons and am liking how I feel! I intend to keep getting better in terms of health and strength. My lazy and uninspired days are behind me.

The other day something occurred to me when I was listening to an acquaintance talking. This individual had mentioned how difficult and time-consuming it was to be environmentally friendly. WHAT? This came as a shock to me as it was in that moment I suddenly realized that I basically run on autopilot when it comes to issues of environmental responsibility. Sure, I’m not perfect and I sometimes make poor decisions but overall I feel responsible for my actions and have integrated this thinking into the every day so it is the norm in my world. It seems so archaic and offensive not to care about the planet we all share and its inhabitants. I seriously don’t understand the unconcerned mindset.

 

 

One of the biggest revelations this summer has been that sometimes, there is no going back home. Recently I went back to my hometown to visit family and friends. I quickly realized that this may be their home but it is no longer mine; I am merely a visitor. At first this thought made me uncomfortable so I dug a bit deeper to understand the reason for my discomfort. I think part of the parcel is that my parents are aging (as we all are) and I have moved in a different direction as offspring are supposed to do. When I first moved away from home at the age of 19 to St. Catharines, I knew no one here. It was not only an adventure but it was sometimes lonely and scary until I made friends and connected with others. Luckily, this was only a matter of days that I wound up in the company of good people. This city has become my home over the years and has replaced my hometown as the place I identify with. I no longer consider myself a Peterborough girl  and this puts a bit of a lump in my throat. Honestly though, the Niagara Region has opened its arms wide with welcome and I am now enfolded in its embrace. I love living here!

 

 

This summer has also shown me more of the incredible natural beauty that surrounds us here in the Niagara Region. We have such a diverse landscape that is teaming with incredible natural wonders. The Niagara Region is tucked between two of the Great Lakes – Lake Ontario (I live on the south shore) and Lake Erie. There are over 200 walking, hiking and cycling trails to be enjoyed and shared with incredible flora and fauna at every step. The Region has created many naturalized sites to encourage wildlife to do its thing and give a safe haven for many species. One of my favorite hikes/walks is up the escarpment by Niagara College. It has a feeling of such intense history to be with these particular trees and rocks and gives an all-encompassing feeling of being a part of Nature not just an outsider looking in. These photos were taken in the late Fall a couple years ago but the escarpment is beautiful in every season.

 

 

 

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

Ericsson 2012 343

 

 

 

Within a short walking distance from my home is the Welland Canal. Even though I’ve lived in St. Catharines half of my life I still find the Canal interesting. It is fascinating that these huge freighters and  sea-going ships make their way through a system of locks up the Niagara Escarpment. For a brief description of the Welland Canal see this link. When my kids were itty-bitty, they used to love to go sit at the locks with me and watch as the ships went through. They were thrilled to bits when the workers on the massive ships would wave to them. Recently I have visited the Canal again a few times and realized that it doesn’t matter how old or young you are or where you come from the Welland Canal is an incredible feat of engineering.

 

 

I’m sure I need not dwell on the prominence of wineries in this region but seriously, they are worth a visit and the trip along the wine route. Wineries play a huge supporting role in the area’s mindset and activities. Good food and great wine are the specialties of an area filled with orchards, farms and vineyards. It’s easy to eat well here.

 

 

Another huge revelation for me and I think the most important of all – I need to live the life I envision for myself. We all have dreams, desires and are called deep from within our Soul to certain places, people and actions. Respecting someone else’s dream is essential to living our own.

 

 

Learning to love the Life we have and moving forward instead of stagnating or going backward is on my mind. I see movement in my future…I strive for joy each and every day through learning new Truths…to treat myself and others with kindness…to appreciate all that is on offer.

 

 

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open

where there were only walls.”

– Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

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In the Vineyard

Vineyard in Niagara

Vineyard in Niagara

The wineries nestled in the Niagara Region are jewels on the crown of this glorious landscape.

This particular winery is one of my favorites due to its incredible wines and stunning views. It’s interesting to stand in the vineyard and just be still. To feel the life force that abounds.

The hills are definitely alive!

In the distance is the Niagara Escarpment which is a ridge that was formed by glaciers. This area of Ontario is blessed with a distinct microclimate due to the escarpment that supports the production of incredible wines.

Have you had wine from the Niagara Region yet? Hunt some down if you can, it will be worth your time.

May I suggest my favorite – Old Vines Foch from Malivoire – if you like a luscious  bold red as much as I do.

One of the many reasons this winery in particular is a favorite is in part due to their mission statement on sustainability. They definitely seem to uphold this statement.

“Operation with minimal environmental impact is a foundation block of Malivoire Wine’s corporate mission. A series of operational practices has been adopted to conform to this mandate.” – Malivoire website.

For more info on the sustainable practices of Malivoire, check out their website.

Standing among the vines

Standing among the vines

 

 

 

I am always awestruck by the beauty of grapes on the vines. Luscious little fruits of the gods they are.

On the Vines

On the Vines

 

 

 

There is something so timeless about vineyards. No matter where on this beautiful planet you are, if there are vineyards there is deep-seated history within the plants. A knowledge that is passed from generation to generation of humans but is simply imprinted within the plant’s growth cycles. It is a double whammy for me, Nature doing it’s thing and our ability to capture this essence.

“It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry of Nature; it is that which uplifts the spirit within us.” – John Ruskin

 

Road Trip – Part Two

I’d like to introduce you to my great friend Steph.  Steph and I became instant friends about 12 years ago when we met at a playgroup with our babies. Our daughters became friends and we naturally did too. Our friendship has been positive and uplifting since that first introduction. You know that feeling when you first meet someone and you just “click”? That’s us. Clickity-click ever since. This is my favorite pic of Steph. She is a chameleon of awesome hair styles and rocks each and every one.

 

 

steph

 

 

 

Now that you know a bit about Steph, I will get to telling you about her half of our road trip together to Ottawa. While I was lounging around in a state of bliss, she was racking up some serious kilometers and using super-human amounts of willpower.

 

 

Steph decided to participate in a grueling bike ride to support and raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. She feels compassionate towards those she personally knows (and those she doesn’t) that are dealing with this debilitating disease. She chose to participate in this ride with her two sister-in-laws in support of her father-in-law that is living with MS. Let me explain to you how incredible I think Steph is for participating. Not only is she doing something to make a difference, she has embarked upon this trek with very little past road training. She purchased a bike strictly for this event a couple of months prior to this ride and quickly racked up the kilometers on local bike paths and roads. I am still amazed at how she jumped in with both feet and never looked back! Mind you, this shouldn’t really surprise me since Steph is the type of individual that once she commits to something she is all in. I have deep respect for her ability to do so.

 

 

The  MS Bike Tour  that she completed was from Ottawa to Cornwall. Here is the map of the ride route. She rode 100 km on the first day of the ride and another 100 km on the second day for a whopping 200 km altogether! Incredible!

 

 

Steph and her bike

Steph and her bike

 

 

If you would like to donate to the MS Society and congratulate Steph and Team Two Tired on their successful ride, you can do so until September 10th at the following link.  

http://mssoc.convio.net/site/TR/BikeTour/OntarioDivision?px=1215268&pg=personal&fr_id=2140&s_locale=en_CA 

 

 

Steph and I had arranged to meet up at the finish line, figuring that I would be there to see her finish her quest. She was too quick, riding like the wind, and already had her flowery flip-flops on and her bike packed in the car ready to hit the road for home by the time I arrived. She was cool and confident as usual when I spotted her standing to the side of the finish line. What a woman!

 

“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” – Wade Boggs

 

Steph, let me tell you yet again how fantastic I think you are. Your tenacity and overwhelming desire to do the right thing are truly inspiring. The world is a better place because you are in it.   xo

Road Trip – Part One

The road trip was brief but added fuel to my fire.  It has taken me this long to collect my thoughts and bring myself back to reality. Road Trip – Part One will be about how I spent my weekend away while Road Trip – Part Two will focus on my friend Steph (and travel companion) and what she was up to. Let me just set the scene by saying that Steph kicked some serious butt and focused like a mad woman last weekend.  We traveled together to our nation’s capital city, Ottawa, then went in our separate directions to get busy with our planned weekends.

 

 

Ottawa is in my Top 10 of favorite cities. If you haven’t visited this stunning city, I encourage you to do so. History, art, culture, politics, nightlife, cuisine, outdoor activities galore all rolled into one beautiful package. I have visited Ottawa so many times that I have lost count but every visit I find something new and exciting to explore. What was my main reason for going to Ottawa other than as a travelling companion to Steph? I was making the journey to visit my sister. Oh, how I love my sister and spending time together always makes my heart happy. We had some serious visiting and spa-ing to do! Yes, I said spa-ing. What else could I possibly call decadent lingering at this Scandinavian style baths/saunas for hours on end? Just thinking about being there still sends me into deep, rubbery bliss. This was my second visit to le Nordik in Quebec that is just a short jaunt from Ottawa. Each visit was a uniquely different experience but both were insanely sublime. I am actually thankful I don’t live closer or I’d be on a first name basis with the staff.  Seriously. Should you ever have the opportunity to go to a spa such as le Nordik, please do so. If you decide to make the trek to le Nordik in Quebec, call me…I’ll join you.

 

 

What do I love so much about this spa in particular? Perhaps it’s the eucalyptus steam sauna that makes one’s body drip with moisture that sends me into a euphoric state. Maybe it’s the freezing cold waterfall or plunge pool that is awaiting my departure from the sauna.  Or possibly it was the relaxation afterward that my body and Soul cried out for. Oh, who am I kidding…it was all of it rolled up into one bliss-filled day of heaven on earth. I even enjoyed the dry heat saunas this visit which I hadn’t been keen on my last visit. It’s interesting how tastes change with the passage of time and personal experiences. Since picture-taking was obviously taboo (this is a den of relaxation and who can really let go if someone is snapping photos of them lounging around in their bathing suit in sometimes unflattering positions).  I suggest that you visit this link to see what all my gushing is about. If I had to choose what my favorite thing about the Spa was, besides the company of sister and friends, I would have to say it was a tie between the Vaporo aromatic sauna, Tellura – which was freaking amazing, or simply the sensational hammocks in the trees secluded from activity. These hammocks were not your run-of-the-mill hammocks either, my friends. There was something almost magical about them. Once cocooned within its folds, no sounds but the leaves blowing in the breeze and quiet relaxation music I effortlessly drifted off into restful slumber like no other I’ve experienced.

 

This place is truly decadent.

 

The trek up to the Spa

The trek up to the Spa

 

 

 

 

Another of my fave sites to visit in Ottawa is the parliament buildings. I am not a lover of politics by any means but the architecture is even more impressive than the buzz that surrounds parliament hill. Canada’s parliament buildings were built between 1859 and 1866. In 1916 there was a fire in the centre block that left nothing but the northwest wing and the  library standing. If it weren’t for the foresight of an employee to close the library doors, the library and its contents would have been lost as well. During the first World War, construction began to build a new centre block which was completed in 1922 with the Peace Tower finished in 1927. The Peace Tower was named in commemoration of Canada’s commitment to peace. Cool feature: the huge gargoyles on the corners of the Peace Tower by the clock face.

 

 

Me on the Hill with the Peace Tower and Centre Block

Me on the Hill with the Peace Tower and Centre Block

 

 

 

There is always something interesting taking place on Parliament Hill. The day we were there the Queen’s Guard were strutting their stuff on the grounds, including bagpipers- in kilts! Yes, I giggled yet again at the sound of bagpipes.

 

 

Queens Guard

Queens Guard

 

 

 

 

On Parliament Hill we stumbled across an incredible sculpture that I hadn’t noticed before. I was struck by its beauty and strength. The Suffragette movement touches me profoundly. I become choked up at the courage of women to stand bravely and fight for the rights of women everywhere. I am proud to call myself a feminist and share in the convictions of my sisters before me. Feminism to me is not an excuse to man bash (glorious specimens that they can be) as some women choose to do but to expect equality across the board. Not ask for permission to obtain it. This sculpture garden, if you will, is very moving.

 

 

sculpture

 

 

 

 

Take a seat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After enjoying the sights and hubbub on the Hill, my sister and I strolled (alright bolted) to Chateau Laurier for brunch. What a brunch it was! Maple crepes with maple whipped cream, chocolate croissants, delicious salads, hot dishes and a pastry table that delighted the eyes and taste buds among many other dishes. And the coffee…oh, the coffee. Sinfully scrumptious.

 

enjoying the coffee at Chateau Laurier

enjoying the coffee at Chateau Laurier

 

 

 

The road trip of relaxation, catching up with my sis and excitement came to a close all too quickly. I already miss my life-long friend and can’t wait for the next get together. Getting away from the daily grind is essential occasionally for allowing my Spirit to soar. To remember that there is intense beauty and exceptional individuals that share this planet. Sometimes the places that are relatively close  – in this case about 7 hours away from my home by car – feed the hunger for adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
-Bill Bryson

Wake Up and Live!

“Life is one big road with lots of signs.

So when you riding through the ruts,

don’t complicate your mind.

Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy.

Don’t bury your thoughts,

put your vision to reality.

Wake Up and Live!

– Bob Marley

It seems as though this week has been one of many ruts. Too many to count. It’s funny how sometimes it’s the smallest of things that push one to the point of tears. This week , although small in the grand scheme of life, my tipping point came when on an extremely tiring day I was itching like crazy from poison ivy only to have a wasp fly in the vehicle window while I was driving and sting me a few times on my inner thigh. At that moment I wanted to just put on the brakes and cry. I refrained thanks to a wonderful friend by my side to uplift my spirits. Friends help us see the ruts for what they really are. Through it all I tried to keep a positive attitude, laugh off the irritation or hurt of the week and just keep moving forward. Sometimes Life gets ugly…sometimes emotions are run ragged – there is always, ALWAYS a positive spin, a lesson to be learned or something better to look forward to.

Here’s where my week becomes downright fun…I am off on a road trip with my uplifting friend! Ottawa, here we come!  (More details to follow!)

Have a fun and rejuvenating weekend. Do something kind for Yourself. Love the Life you have been given. Laugh until your stomach hurts…I intend to!

Top Secret Mission Revealed

I love to try to find fun and interesting ways to reuse items. This is one of my favorite projects that I am still enjoying on these beautiful summer nights in my back garden. Things are looking quite different this year in the garden itself while the outdoor light fixture is standing up to the tempestuous Canadian weather year-round.

Thanks for hanging out in my garden with me again.

livelovebegreen

I have been on yet another Top Secret Mission. OK  not really, but calling it top-secret makes it seem so much more fun.

I decided a couple of weeks ago that I would like a light fixture over our outdoor dining table. After looking around at a few stores and seeing what’s available, I decided to tackle making one myself. Besides the fact that the cost is prohibitive on many outdoor fixtures and most are not to my liking, I wondered if I had the materials to make my own unique DIY version.  In the spirit of reusing and recycling, I pondered over different materials already around the house then gathered together my chosen objects. Here are the materials pictured below.

One string of LED outdoor Holiday lights, wicker/rattan balls, hanging basket chain with three chains connected to top hook, paperclips, and a stainless steel ring from an old kitchen…

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I Dream of Gardens

 

 

I am in a gardening frame of mind at present. I eat, breathe and sleep gardens during the summer months. Yes, I even dream of plants in my slumber. I am always grateful to get dirty and breathe fresh air.

 

 

Last weekend I felt the urge to get out into a garden that I could savor its beauty with no strings attached. To walk among the greenery, stop to smell whatever flower caught my eye, and sit still and let my senses lap up all that was on offer.  I figured that the best location to do this was at the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden that is about a fifteen minute drive on the highway from my house. I hadn’t been in this particular garden for a few years so I thought it was high time I check it out again. I am never disappointed by the gorgeous planters and urns that dot the walkways. They are a symphony of colour and textures that are pleasing to behold. Despite the plethora of planters, my timing was not great since many of the show gardens, the rose garden in particular, had just finished blooming and had been recently dead-headed. The Parks had planned well and planted adjacent flower beds with eye-popping colour in hopes of detracting away from the blah vista of non-blooming rose bushes. Candy-coloured annuals distracted me from disappointment.

 

 

There is one area in particular in this 100 acre property that calls to me through the treetops and beckons me to make a beeline directly into its inner sanctum – the herb garden. This garden is walled by cedar hedges that were planted in the 1940’s and still stand, perfectly manicured to create not only a mini micro-climate but also creates the feel of an outdoor room that quite honestly, I would be more than happy to stay in for hours.

Herb Garden

Herb Garden

 

 

 

After the herb garden, a nice stroll through the arboretum was in order. Don’t you just love the cool shade beneath the trees? My inner child wants to run from one shady spot to the next by the feel of the shades’ coolness alone while the sun shines in my eyes.

 

 

arboretum

arboretum

 

If you plan on visiting the Niagara Region, I highly recommend both the Butterfly Conservatory and the Botanical Gardens on your list of places to see.  Who knows, you may even bump into me taking in the gardens in every season!

For more info on the botanical gardens, visit this link.

Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

 

 

I bid you farewell and many enjoyable hours in the sunshine!

“When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.”
– Minnie Aumonier