The Perfect Day Trip From Toronto

When I travel, I love big cities.

I also love the smaller towns, a day trip away, where a different world awaits.

If you live in or are visiting the Toronto area, then this is one day trip that should be on your list.

Go one hour east of Toronto and you will find two of the quaintest towns ever – Port Hope and Cobourg, side by side.

Port Hope has a charming name and plenty of adorable scenery to match. A main street filled with flowers, cute stores and delicious restaurants combined with a rolling river with a path along side makes this town perfect for strolling and relaxing.This is the kind of place that you search for high and low when you travel. And when you find it, you don’t want to leave.

Port Hope is filled with great restaurants but if you are coming, be sure to check out Olympus Burger, a favourite destination for locals filled with a wide range of burgers with Greek names and the best sweet potato fries ever. Any burger place that also includes 3 veggie burger options is also top-notch in my books!

If you are in the mood for Thai, our favourite is The Bualai Thai restaurant where friendly service and a beautifully designed interior meets amazing food and equals major satisfaction.

For shopping, you must visit a one of a kind store just outside Port Hope called Primitive Designs. This is not just shopping, it is sight-seeing around the world! With an inventory from Buddha statues to Tiki bars to wood carved furniture to even transformers made from recycled parts, it makes shopping a delight for even a non-shopper such as myself!

If you are in the mood to swim, drive a few minutes more to Cobourg where the loveliest beach and harbour await.

Port Hope and Cobourg are 2 towns that look like they walked off a Hollywood movie screen. So charming and adorable to look at that you can’t believe they are real!

When you travel do you like to find smaller places outside larger cities to explore? 

3 Ways You Too Can Survive Camping In Canada

Camping in Canada can be fun.

It also can suck.

After a successful weekend of camping, our family has finally succeeded in mastering the art of camping.

What You Need To Do

1. Simplify

For years I have made multiple lists of what to bring camping. By the time my lists were checked off, I had brought everything but the kitchen stove! It would have been easier to put the house on wheels and move it.

This time, no lists. Just a random walk through of the garage and a few items pulled from the dusty shelves. Repeat in kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and still 99% less stuff than previous camping trips. Already less anxiety and more smiles.

Okay, so when we arrived we didn’t have the fly swatter, the mesh protector for food, the cooler filled with food that we never end up cooking, the zillion ziplock bags but who cares? We had bug spray, a tent, some snacks (that we called dinner) and we could still call ourselves campers.

2. Stay Close To Home

There is no rule that camping means driving long distances. Arriving 10 minutes away from home, we had a campsite, trees, birds, picnic table, and a brook. We were camping within walking distance of our house so even if rule number 1 (simplify) massively failed, we could home and redo it. ­čÖé

3. Return Home When Redo Is Necessary

So after our first night in our tent without too much padding on the ground (remember we were simplifying) we returned home to grab our couch pillows so that the second night actually involved sleeping!

Camping without sleeping is highly overrated. Camping and sleeping make for happier families!

As we pulled out this morning from our site, both girls thanked us immediately for a terrific weekend of marshmallows, hot dogs, cards, swimming, fires and laughter.

What more could you want from a simple camping trip in Canada?

What kind of camping person are you? 

A Trip Down Rollerskating Lane

As I watch my kids grow up, I travel down memory lane.

Now although I enjoy this kind of trip, it has been made known to me (sighs, groans, protest, dead silence) that not all members of my family love this kind of travel as much as I do.

Sucked into their world of head phones, music, videos, photos, movies and anything that involves technology, stories of walking, running, swimming, biking can take a backseat.

It takes some creative engineering to break through the world of Minecraft!

Enter: the world of rollerskating.

As the kids looked at their roller skates like they were some foreign object dropped down from Mars, they questioned my sanity. Surely inline skates (the known) would be much better than roller skates (the unknown).

Nope! This was going to be a trip down memory lane. Roller skates or nothing!

After a few trips around the dark disco light floor listening to Michael Jackson, they had to agree.

This trip (at least this time) wasn’t too bad, actually!

Do you have any rollerskating memories? I was so happy when we found this rink as I thought that rollerskating had completely died! 

Canada Day: Toronto Style

One word for Canada Day.

WOW.

Toronto has a way of doing that.

On the way to the baseball game, these are the Canadian moments we saw.

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And what brought tears to my eyes, was a parade we stumbled upon put on by immigrants and refugees to Canada. People who have chosen to make Canada their home.

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And then a baseball game that was so much more than a baseball game. A place to celebrate Canadian heroes as they unfolded our flag. It was one of those I won’t forget moments.

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And even the moon was celebrating in all its light.

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Happy belated Canada Day to all. And for those of you who haven’t visited, do come. It is worth the trip.

Father’s Day: Toronto Style

Today was my husband’s first Father’s Day in Toronto.

Given that Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, this city speaks to us.

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So we mixed and matched what Toronto has to offer, to bring Chris a Father’s Day that he and his tummy will never forget.

1. Since 5/6 of our family is breakfast obsessed, Father’s Day has to begin at this little Greek diner downtown complete with Greek potatoes and the friendliest staff.

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2. Then, to walk off the food coma, we wandered until we found free ice cream from Prince Edward Island (our former home). Ice cream is a food group in our family!

3. Bookstores (well.. the travel section) often call our names and before we knew it, we were the proud owners of these. Cambodia, Turkey and Arabic lessons were on this year’s Father’s Day menu.

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4. Then, tired and needing sugar, we found churros from Mexico.

5. The 1/6 of our family who is not breakfast obsessed required some falafel from Israel and Chris, being the sweet husband and dad that he is, participated as well.

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6. Tired from our previous night at the drive-in, where we “travelled” to Costa Rica to laugh at the corny movie Jurassic World, we headed home.

7. Nothing speaks Canada more than mowing the lawn (well… shoveling snow maybe). So happy dad taught willing girls how to mow the lawn with his new super duper old-fashioned quiet lawnmower.

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A perfect Father’s Day for the perfect father.┬áHappy Father’s Day to all of you as well!

My Husband Has Replaced Me

It is not looking good.

Chris has found a new love. And it is not me.

Competition has arrived in a smaller and cuter package, one that doesn’t talk too much and will listen to all his stories. This perfect low maintenance relationship has begun and I haven’t even packed yet!

Yes, Chris, otherwise known as “I love to mow the lawn and trim trees and nothing more” ┬áhas entered the first stage of You are leaving and I need to get busy to fill up my time.┬á

Hence, the ominous appearance of these on the scene.

The infamous pumpkin and sunflower seeds that now shine in Chris's life.

The infamous pumpkin and sunflower seeds that now shine in Chris’s life.

Now to be fair, we have always been a bit of a pumpkin driven family. Enticed by the lure of fall, our family has been known to spend great gobs of time searching for pumpkins, playing with pumpkins and ultimately massacring them in the name of Halloween. Left to rot outside in the cold winter, we only remember to put them to rest once the snow begins to melt.

And so it is not too shocking that of all the seeds to attract Chris’s attention, pumpkins won out. The sunflowers were a peace-offering that I would remain “somewhat in the picture” as these are my favourite.

So determined to have the prettiest pumpkins and the sunniest sunflowers, Chris has turned on the charm as he lovingly plants and tends to his new garden.

Chris planting the pumpkin seeds.

Chris planting the pumpkin seeds.

I actually caught him the other night checking them out. “Apparently” frost was forecasted and he was deep in worry that his new “friends” were in harm’s way. Pacing and sweating, he finally managed to fall asleep, only to run to the yard the next morning to triple check their security.

So until I leave, I am now playing second fiddle to the dirt in my backyard.

Oh and the promises have already begun. I will be able to meet Chris’s new friends when they are born. Apparently Egypt Air will let them accompany Chris from Canada to Cairo. Well it is a direct flight after all… ­čÖé If not, then we can still skype I guess.

(Special thanks to Ally from The Spectacled Bean who suggested the title for this post. Be sure to check out her blog which is terrific.)

Does your significant other have a hobby that “takes over” at times or borders on “obsession”?┬á

Feeding My India Cravings

I want to live in India some day.

I have lived in North Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America and soon the Middle East. But for a travel obsessed person such as myself, it is never enough. My list goes on and on…

I have been and always will be in love with India. Why? Because it is the most fascinating, frustrating, bewildering, confusing, colourful, eyes opening and jaw dropping kind of place I have ever experienced. It is travel on steroids.

So it is no surprise to my family that they will be dragged to something “Indian” when we venture out on the town. It was bangles and dhosa with Abby and it was tiffins (Indian metal containers used to carry lunches) and spicy sizzling veggies with Allyson. And always… naan for Jade.

Now before the blended family thing happened, Chris and his girls had not touched the stuff. Dangling the tantalizing smells of curry over their heads, they quickly responded and together, we blended in our love for Indian food. Living close to Toronto, we can head out and always find something interesting to satisfy my India cravings. Recently, we ran into a Sikh festival which of course made me want to book a flight to Amritsar, India to see The Golden Temple.

A little shopping in Little India where tiffins and other delights are to be found.

After shopping in Little India, you must try the┬áLahore Tikka House (Pakistani food which seems┬ásimilar to Indian but quite spicy as Chris’s face turns red and begins to pour sweat). When you arrive, the waiters ask you where you want to sit. Then each and every time, they show us where we should sit! A game of ask and tell that makes us always laugh ­čÖé You receive a whiteboard to write out your order which should always include naan as it is simply the best! If you love your veggies, go directly to the combo sizzler which is heaven in your mouth.

And then you stumble home in a food coma until it wears off and you return!

What travel cravings or food cravings do you have the most?

5 Ways To Find Fun On The Streets Of Toronto

Four daughters means 2 middle daughters – Jade and Allyson. They are the icing in our Oreo. When they get together, we are guaranteed to have a sweet time. Recently they discovered 5 ways to have fun on the streets of Toronto.

1. Graffiti Alley – free reading and art work at any time

┬á2. Cupcakes and CheeseHow can you go wrong with either of these choices? – says the vegetarian mom who is trying to go vegan

3. Look At Signs, Signs, and Signs

4. People Watching –┬áGo to Queen Street West and walk and you will see a lot of interesting characters from Spider Man on a skateboard to a guy who was reliving those stretchy polyester pants from Saturday Night Fever (no pics out of respect).

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5. Eat Burgers and All Day Breakfast – The girls love their burgers from The Burger’s Priest where wolfing down meat is a holy experience. Or so they tell me! Chris loves his breakfast in a diner where people drink beer for breakfast (a tad questionable but he will do anything for breakfast)!┬á┬áMe, on the other hand, I will hold out for Indian,Thai, Vietnamese or Lebanese which is available, thankfully, everywhere I look.

What do you enjoy doing on the streets of your town or city?