Friday, August 31, 2012

Niagara Honeymoon: Part 1

Just a warning: expect the majority of posts for the next month or so to revolve around wedding things.
It's hard to believe it was a week ago that I was watching my moms and friends get their hair done, waiting for my turn and for the make-up to begin.
I wasn't nervous, or scared, or having second thoughts, or even really excited at this time last week (I know, horrible) because it didn't sink in that it was my wedding day until I put on my dress and we got into the limo.
Then it was real.
The day went by in a flash - over too soon, as most brides I'm sure will say.
I did take friends' advice and I stopped a few times to just take it all in.
The sunset, the tables filled with people I love, having my best friend hold my dress while I used the washroom, my new husband. Some of the snapshots of the night I tried to remember.
The next morning we woke up and packed up so that we could go have breakfast with some of the guests who had stuck around right until checkout.
My dad drove us back to the venue so we could grab the rest of the items that were left there.
John's parents had been kind enough to go over earlier that morning and pack up the majority of the items - including 12 bottles EACH of red and white wine from dinner that hadn't been opened.
(insert shocked/excited face here)
We enjoyed a glass of wine looking out at the gazebo where we had hitched ourselves to each other's wagons (John's term) then we headed for our mini-Niagara honeymoon.
We stayed at the Sterling Inn & Spa and let me tell you, this place is phenomenal.
It's walking distance from the Falls and, though it seemed like it might be in a sketchy area as we drove in, it's not.  
We booked ourselves the Retreat Package and enjoyed a couples massage and a 3-course dinner at the restaurant connected to the hotel - AG. But more on that later.
We walked into our room and were immediately blown away.

There was a small kitchen to the right when you walked in, then a big luxurious bathroom as you walked towards the main room.
The tub was MASSIVE and the shower was incredible. I want this exact bathroom when I can afford a house.
We had a great big king size bed

And at the foot of the bed was a fireplace!
Had it not been summer that fireplace would have been roaring.

That night we went for dinner at AG.
The menu changes regularly as they do "field to fork" inspired food from the Niagara region.
Since our meal was included in our package, we opted to spend a little extra and have our server pair wine with each of our courses.
John started with this amazing corn bisque, complete with a sort of smoked bacon compote which the server poured the bisque over before topping it with popcorn. I had a braised rabbit gnocchi.
The wine that John had paired with his was a vidal blanc from Stoneyridge and it was so good that we decided we would go and find it the next day. We never found it.
(side note: I just found it on the wine list - the vidal blanc was from Hernder. Now I have to go there or try an find it at the LCBO).
Ad the pictures I took of the food didn't turn out too well because of the lighting.
And because my camera is broken so I'm using my ipod to take photos.
But here's my rabbit gnocchi

My entree was a cornish hen with lamb sausage cornbread stuffing. It was as good as it sounds.
We each got a desert but we decided to have the creme brulee and save our second desert for later that night.
After an incredible meal we decided to aid our digestion by going for a walk down to the Falls.
They're beautiful at night.
We walked around the Clifton Hill area and saw the most ridiculous dinosaur mini putt set up.
I say ridiculous in the sense that we stopped and starred at it for awhile. There was a volcano that erupted and dinos everywhere.
I was in love.

I'm smiling cause I'm in love with the man taking this picture.
Also because I was waiting to take a picture with these raptors:
After our adventure to the Falls we went back to the hotel where we literally passed out the minute we got into bed.
But not before going back to the restaurant to pick up our second desert which we wisely decided t save for later.

I fell asleep in the bath robe and slept straight through the night in that giant bed.
We woke up to a breakfast delivery and enjoyed it much the way we did the tiramisu - in bed.
If only every weekend could be that perfect.
This post is to be continued as shortly after that picture of John in bed was taken we got up and went on a winery tour trying to hunt down that vidal blanc.
So stay tuned for a review of Stoneyridge, Kacaba, Megalomaniac, and Malivoire.
I can't believe it's been a full week of married life.
Nothing big has changed but it's been incredible none-the-less.
I'm a very lucky Mrs.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Pictures!

I'm married!
Friday was hands down the best day of my life to date.
Everything was better than I imagined and went off without a hitch.
Even the weather was beautiful, if not a little too hot, but we even had the most incredible sunset during dinner.
John and I rented a car (a Chevy Impawlahh cause it sounds more gangsta), packed it to the gills, then set out for Niagara.
Not before we spent about an hour in a park cutting Queen Anne's Lace, I should admit.
Free flowers. I make no apologies.
Thursday night we met up with most of the guests in our parties.
We headed out to a pub for a big meal of  ribs, onion rings, burgers, and nachos.
We ran through a very confusing rehearsal in my parent's hotel suite then packaged up the s'mores favours for the next day.
Here are the ladies and I in our favour assembly line.
The next morning we got our hair and makeup done and tried to stay calm without crying.
Meanwhile the boys and my mother- and father-in-law were busy setting up the cootie-catcher programa (pinned on the bows on each chair but unfortunately missed by most of the guets) and stringing tuille across the fence and gazebo.

Both of my parents walked me down the aisle.
We came down between rows of grapes.
I had already cried about 3 times before this moment.


Then John and I got married!
We exchanged our own vows and then some of the more standard ones.
I promise to post the vows next week as requested, since they weren't heard by everyone.


I mentioned it before, but here's proof of the incedible sunset we had.

I cannot thank my beautiful bridesmaids enough - they were such big helps and I love them all to death.
And here are a few pics my new big sister took of me getting ready.
She has an incredible eye for shots and these are so beautiful I forget that it's me I'm looking at.

P.S. A shot from Andrea of the table and the favours!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Just a quick post as I lay sprawled out on a king size bed in a crazy suite walking distance from Niagara Falls, waiting to go to dinner for 6 pm.

Last night I got married and it was the best night of my life. Without a doubt.
My family and friends being there to celebrate made it so much more amazing.

I'll post more pictures and write more about the entire weekend on Wednesday.

Im enjoying being a Mrs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Getting Pampered

This is going to be an unfortunately quick post because I'm heading out to be pampered today.
Spa followed by a nail appointment with my mom and sister.
Then home to finish all of the last minute things that need to be done.
Like the favour box items.
Originally I had this lofty plan to bake 240 graham cracker cookies but because the first batch I made worked really well, the three batches I attempted last night all crumbled apart and failed.
So store bought graham crackers it is!

There is one package of homemade crackers in there but the rest are store bought that I'm artfully disguising with some baker's twine.

Time to go get ready to lounge around here all morning/afternoon:

Photo from

Friday, August 17, 2012

Restaurant Review: Amaya Bread Bar

On Friday night John took me out for my birthday dinner to a spot I've been wanting to check out for over a year now: Amaya. It's a self described 'neo-Indian' bread bar. 
I was not disappointed and even John, who is not the biggest fan of Indian food, really enjoyed our meal. 

So, here's what we ordered! 

We started with the Mixed Grill for Two which consisted of  chicken tikka, beef kebabs, and tandoori prawns ($15.95) 

was delicious. Even the prawns were very good and I am not the biggest seafood fan.

Our main course consisted of butter chicken ($14.95), Alooo Gobi ($10.95) which is curried cauliflower and potatoes with cilantro, and sides of garlic naan bread ($3.95 for 4 pieces) and the jewelled basmati rice ($3.45)  

Everything got piled up on my plate and I went in for a big second helping.

I would highly recommend this restaurant. The food was delicious, the space is small and intimate, and the service was fantastic - we even got a starter on the house!
Make sure to make reservations, though, as the restaurant doesn't open until 4 and the kitchen closes at 9:30 pm. And the space is small so tables go quick!

The food was so good, in fact, that while at Yorkdale with my parents on Sunday we decided to check out the new food court and where did we end up eating?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Favours

This time next week I'll be at the spa with my mom, being totally pampered in preparation for the big day.
One more week til that, 9 more days until the wedding.
Wow... where has the time gone?

With our time dwindling away, I started to put together the favours for the wedding.
I went to a wonderful store in Toronto called Creative Bag and found these awesome window boxes. I was originally walking around the store with a wheely basket full of small Chinese takeout boxes but they would have run about $100 for 125 of them. The boxes I ended up with cost me only $30 for 150 of them.

I bought them in 2 colours - white and chocolate. I was cutting out the ***** that we're using as programs (to be revealed after the wedding) and had some scrap paper left over. Inspired by the tags that my cousins used during the long weekend on their wine bottle gifts, I started to cut little flags out of green and purple paper scraps.

I also pulled out a stamp I had purchased for $1.50 at Michael's, bought a grey ink pad, and got to stamping.

I spent Saturday night curled up on the couch with a box of Hot Tamales, watching the entire first season of 'Girls' on my new birthday ipad (soooooo good - I love you John!), and gluing the flags onto the favour boxes.

Then, because I am le crazy and always need to have some sort of project on the go (what am I going to do after the wedding is over??? WEDDING CRAFTER/HELPER FOR HIRE!) I've decided to try and bake the graham crackers that we'll be using for the favours.
So I created a recipe card with an abridged version of the recipe I used and printed off a whole bunch of them.

I bought some bakers twine from Michael's on the weekend and tied up each recipe card with a piece of it.

I also bought several hundred (not an exaggeration) chocolates and wrapped 252 of them with labels that I had custom made.
We now have a very hard-to-resist giant bowl of chocolate sitting on our coffee table.
My mom can attest to how good these chocolates are, as we ate almost half a bag sampling each of the variations.
Costco - each bag cost $5.99 and contained roughly 50 - 75 chocolates.

The finished product won't be available for photographing until Thursday the 23rd!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weekend Breakfast Indulgence

I went to pick up our marriage license on Friday ($140 later...holy cow!) and while I was in the area I popped into the Loblaw's.
Their bakery always produces some very interesting loaves of bread and I'm always curious to try them.
The last really good one I had was a rosemary potato ciabatta loaf, which I then used as inspiration to make my own.
This time I picked up a loaf of Cranberry Focaccia (with raisins).
I tore into it once I got home - the top was lightly sugar crusted and the bread was packed with delicious cranberries and raisins. In an effort not to eat the entire loaf in one sitting, I decided I would turn the remainder into thick slices of french toast for breakfast the next day.

For my batter I whipped one egg with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, as well as a splash of french vanilla coffee cream. I cooked the french toast in a grill pan to give each slice those lovely grill marks that I find make everything taste better.
I also sauteed nectarines for some extra sweetness and grilled up a sausage for some savory.

Go find a different type of bread and get creative with your french toast!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Bachelorette Edition

Wedding Countdown: 16 days.
2 more pre-big day Wedding Wednesdays after this.

Since the big day is rapidly approaching and I'm running out of crafts that I don't mind giving away before the wedding to post, I thought I'd share some of the photos from my Bachelorette Party 2 weekends ago.

My sister and friends threw me an incredible party filled with many many laughs, some majorly embarassing moments, and memories that I'll cherish forever.
My sister really went all out to make sure I celebrated my "last wild night" properly and for that I love her.
I only hope when her time comes I can plan something equally as incredible!

So, in (safe to view) pictures, here's the basic steps for planning a bachelorette party.

1. Organize fun games, such as 'Never have I ever', and pin the manhood on the stud.

2. Have your best friend (who you love to death) bake and decorate an incredible and delicious bachelorette cake.
There was red velvet cake under that hot corset, FYI.

3. Drink. Champagne cocktails, wine spritzers, strawberry shots, champagne shots, and shots shots shot.


4. Take a SUV Limo and have the driver lift you out of it. Go to a club with lots of dancing and catch a Drag show. End the night with street meat that the driver won't let you eat in the limo.

Wish you could do it every weekend.
But be excited about the 5 upcoming weddings and the potential for more bachelorette parties to come!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fam Jam 2012

We got home this afternoon after a wonderful weekend at the lake for Fam Jam 2012.
Though we were down a few family members, we had a beautiful day on Saturday, sunshine for some of Sunday followed by a rainy day spent inside watching the Olympics, lots of great food, games, and lots of laughs.

Sunday, in between rain showers, we managed to get almost everyone out into the lake at the same time.

Saturday night was a very sweet celebration of our upcoming wedding. My cousins set up an awesome photo booth complete with the most incredible (and appropriately hilarious) props ever.
These are two of my personal favourites, as modeled by their daughter:

Bill Murray: the actor & the cat.

They also organized a wine shower (we are now the very proud and very excited owners of a large number of bottles of wine) and made a desert of the best thing ever: s'mores. Done 3 ways. S'mores mini pies, s'mores cookies, and s'mores squares (made like rice krispies squares only with golden grahams and chocolate chips) (these might have been my favourite considering I had 3 of them).

They also brought moustache cookies as a thank you for everyone who sponsered my cousin during Movember. He is a big supported of Movember and raises a lot of money for prostrate cancer research by growing a respectable (or not so respectable) moustache. Currently, he's rocking a pretty serious beard, to his wife's dismay and to my dad's awe.

On Sunday me, John, my sister, and her boyfriend all got to work in the kitchen to make a meal for our 'Cinqo de August' night. In trying to come up with a theme it was either that or 'Olympics' but to come up with a meal for 'Olympics' was impossible.
And Mexican food can be done relatively on the cheap.

We cooked up some beef, sauteed some peppers, baked some pulled pork quesadillas, and put out a whole bunch of fillings for burritos and tacos including refried beans, black beans, Mexican rice, tomatoes, salsa & salsa verde, cheese, and guacamole.
You really can't go wrong with Mexican.

Inspired by these but not wanting to put THAT much effort into it (what? Look at how many steps are involved!) I tried to make a pinata cake.
As most great ideas of mine tend to do, it failed when the cake fell apart once it came out of the pan.
But with some icing and mushing together, the cake stood and was filled with candy to spill out once it was cut into.

And since Sunday was my birthday I got to cut into the cake wearing the birthday Sombrero.

Thanks to my family for these pictures (my camera's broken), a fun birthday, a very sweet shower, and an awesome long weekend!

Fam Jam 2013: 363 days to plan next year's theme dinner.