Friday, August 30, 2013

First Anniversary: Day Two

After a nice sleep in our honeymoon suite we woke up and headed over to 5 Lakes Spa for our couple's massage.
I would gladly pay someone to massage me first thing in the morning every day.
I'd be so happy.
Then we got back on the road and made our way to a few more wineries.
First up:
The view was spectacular (as is the case with so many wineries in Niagara. Really, you need to see them all) and the wines were good (especially the rose!). We got a quick tutorial about red versus black soil and we attempted to taste the difference between cab francs grown in each. We didn't notice too much of a difference but once suggested you kind of catch it in the acidity.

We left with a bottle of the 2012 Cabernet Franc Rose and the 2011 Pinot Gris.
Then it was back on the road to finally visit a place I'd been dying to check out:

I had looked at this as a possible wedding venue but it's pricey... but so beautiful, inside and out.
If I win the lottery I'm throwing another big party so we can get married again here.
Not that I didn't love our venue, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't change a thing about our wedding.
I just want another one!
We tried more wines, John took a tasting "flight" with 4 pre-selected wines and I opted to pick my own.
We left with a bottle of the 2012 Aligote, the 2010 Gamay Noir 'Droit', and a 2008 Late Harvest Reisling.
Then, after some more fun pictures in front of the fountain, we packed up to hit another winery.
Our next stop brought us to one we'd visited in January:

I love the covered bridge and in January when we first visited there was a wedding party taking photos here. This would also be a beautiful spot to host a wedding.
Third wedding will be here.
We left with 6 bottles of the 2011 Vidal (it's $6.95, you pretty much have to get either a dozen or a half dozen). a 2009 Reisling, and a jar of red pepper ice jelly.
Then we decided to try another place we hadn't already visited:

The people here were especially lovely and chatty. I was surprised to find out this winery is responsible for the Sibling Rivalry wines! I suppose if I had bothered to read the label...
But we left here with a 2011 Baco Noir Reserve and a 2011 Estate Reisling.
There was one called 'Family Tree' with an amazing label but the wine we found too dry and we decided to go with the sweeter reisling.
This was obviously a reisling heavy trip.
Our last stop was reserved for the winery we had gone to on our actual anniversary but there was another wedding going on and we didn't want to crash.

They recognized us when we came in, saying, "the bride and groom are here!" which was so welcoming. We were given a glass of sparkling wine to celebrate, then we sampled a few and grabbed a glass each to take on our walk down memory lane.
We stopped for a few fun pictures along the way.

We sat on the secluded beach and just enjoyed our last day as newlyweds.

That first year went by entirely too fast but we had some wonderful adventures.
Now we're busy working on year 2 and the even more wonderful things our future has in store for us.
Including drinking the 21 bottles of wine we bought for ourselves.

And to cap off a perfect anniversary trip?


Thursday, August 29, 2013

First Anniversary: Day 1 continued

After our oysters and reisling we decided to hit a few more wineries close by.
One of those was Organized Crime.

It's a smaller place and the story behind the name is kind of cool. The wine labels depict the story as well.
I forget the actual details but it involved a menonite community and a stolen piano.
We left with two bottles: a 2012 reisling and a 2009 cab franc.

Then we hit Fielding.
Beautiful scenery and really good wines.
We decided we needed some food at this point too so we got a cheese plate with red pepper jelly (which we devoured).

We (by 'we' I mean pretty much exclusively just me) were starting to feel the wine at this point which was a big factor in our decision to grab a snack. It also factored heavily into my decision to buy a $60 bottle of wine. Mind you it was really good.
We left with a 2011 reisling and a the 2007 'Choosen Few' red.
The woman serving us told us it should be cellared until 2020-2022 so we're going to push it to 2022 and open it on our 10th anniversary.
See? Great at rationalizing a $60 purchase.

Paying that much for wine was somewhat sobering so we decided it was time to head to our hotel and check in.
The place was... kind of what I expected.
A standard hotel room, king sized bed.

The good: heart shaped hot tub with jets, mini fridge, black out curtains, comfortable bed, close to the falls.
The bad: the bachelor party staying near us who partied loudly til 4 am, the small tv that got 14 channels of static, the timer to the hot tub that we could only access using a pair of plyers, the broken a/c unit that we had to drape the curtains over so we didn't freeze in the morning, the centipede who figured our wedding cake (that we forgot to put in the fridge before going to bed) was fair game.  

All in all, I'd probably stay there again if I needed an inexpensive place just to sleep in.

We made dinner reservations at Elements for 7:30 then took a quick nap.
John woke me up at 8:20 and we made our way to the restaurant, careful not to give our names for fear they'd giv eus dirty looks for completely sleeping through our reservations.
The walk was lovely and the view from the restaurant was awesome. We were sitting looking right at the edge of the horsehoe falls.

(sorry, the reflection of the restaurant in this picture kind of detracts from the view)

Showing up later in the night probably guaranteed us a window seat. When we made our 7:30 reservations they told me a window seat was not a guarantee.

We both got red meat and a glass of red wine to accompany our meals.
I had the beef tenderloin with blue cheese, vegetables, mashed sweet potatoes and a cesaer salad.

I ate almost every single bite.
Then we walked off our big dinner and went back to our room to fiddle with the timer d hop into the tub.

And to have some desert.

Next up: day 2 in which we visit a lot more wineries.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Anniversary: Day 1

After minimal sleep on Saturday morning we hit the road for our first anniversary weekend.
I was tired but I was more excited to spend the weekend with John and to visit more of the wineries in the Nigara region.
Our first stop was at Thirty Bench, where we were signed up for the Oysters & Reisling tasting.
The oysters (and much more after the event) were provided by Tide & Vine.

We were given a glass of the winemaker's reisling to start (we bought two bottles) and then they filled up our glasses with 3 more reislings and a pinot gris.
From left to right:
a 2009 Reisling that had a "wet stones'' quality to it.
2011 Reisling which was a little less acididc
2010 reisling with more fleshy fruit flavours
The pinot gris - any information I forgot to note, I was already pretty tipsy at this point. 

Let me start by saying this: oysters are gross.
I only signed us up for this event because I know how big a fan John is.
I tried them once long ago with my aunt and uncle who advised me to just swallow a little peice. It was like swallowing a booger.
So I thought, what the heck, let's chew this ugly looking thing and see if it doesn't taste any better.
It doesn't.
But I ate 4 of them. The last one doused in horseradish and some other wine-based sauce.

We had malpeque's from the actual malpeque bay, the "french kiss" malpeque which is from New brusnwick and is less salty (but is also HUGE so I gave this one to John), the "Beach Angel" from B.C.'s Quadra Island which had a more creamy texture, and lastly the Kumimoto from Japan which was also quite creamy but also had a bit of a metallic taste.
(Note: all of these descriptions are from the guy who was telling us about them, I wasn't concentrating on flavours. I just wanted to chew, swallow, and get back to my wine).


The things I do for love.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Anniversary Card

I saw the idea for this card on (guess where?) Pinterest and knew it would be perfect for John.
I meant to fancy it up a bit more and make it look more fishing vest-like but I forgot...
And spent my time working on the gifts that go with the card.
As I mentioned it's a fishing vest. With 4 pockets. And in each of those pockets is a fish on a tongue depressor (thanks, place of employment).
 And on each of those fish is a way to show someone you love them (as mentioned in a previous post).
"Acts of Service" I will post tomorrow because I meant to do it today but forgot. By forgot I mean I got home from work, popped 2 Zzzquils and slept for 7 glorious hours before heading off to work again.
For "Receiving Gifts" I bought him a documentary about Maynard James Keenan (of Tool/A Perfect Cirlce/Puscifer fame)  and his foray into wine making.
I cheated a bit and used "Quality Time" and "Physical Touch" together for one gift. A couple's massage! Sunday morning we can look forward to a relaxing rub down. This gift is also for me because I did something to my lower back ... probably from lifting and repositioning heavy patients.
Also I realize I'm giving him the gift of physical touch from someone other than his wife but let's be honest, my massages are mediocre at best.
"But that's only 4 fish. What about Words of Affirmation? You forgot one."
No I didn't.
They're on the back!

I'm so excited for this weekend.
Strolling around Niagara, sampling wines and ultimately buying way more than we intend to, getting massaged, sitting in the heart shaped tub with a glass of wine, and spending time with my husband.
They say you're only newlyweds for the first year.
Maybe technically.
But that feeling's going to take a lot longer than a year to disappear.

Happy 1st year of marriage, (insert any number of silly pet names here)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Home Owners: A Someday Dream

It's been a full year since I've had steady employment in my career field.
I've been lucky in that there have been months where I feel over-worked and exhausted.
I mean, obviously I don't feel lucky at the time but afterwards seeing my bank accounts creep up and up is very satisfying.
A few months ago I set up a tax free savings account and have already put $1000 into it.
I switched my chequings  account to one where I don't pay per debit card transaction (which is huge because I use my debit card a lot) but I forgot to give the paperwork to HR at one place of employment so one of my paycheques goes into one account and the other goes into the old account that is no longer connected to my debit card.
Which means there are paycheques accumulating that I forget about, only to find this "extra" money when I do my banking.
It's fantastic.
For all the complaining I do about shift work, it's nice being able to regulate my schedule a bit and being able to pick up extra shifts when I need to.
I've put in full time hours (maybe full time plus) this month and I had planned on not working so many shifts in September.
But lately John and I have been talking more about when we could reasonably start looking at houses.
Which turned into right now.
We can't afford anything just yet but we've started looking and my goodness it's exciting!
I've watched a lot of those shows - House Hunters, etc - where people turn their noses up at everything and find all sorts of reasons not to love a house.
I know for a fact that each place we walk into I'm going to love.
I'm going to find reasons to want it to be our home.
I'll definitely need John to be the realist.
Anyway, it's given me more stuff to do during my night shifts, namely looking at properties and then going d├ęcor mad on Pinterest.
If I had an unlimited budget, here are some things I would include in my dream home:
1. A bright and cozy reading nook.

2. A deep bath tub for long soaks. 

A sunken tub vs. a claw-footed tub. Maybe one in each bathroom.

3. A backyard built for entertaining.
How AMAZING would this fire pit/sand pit be?

Also on my list of desirable features: an open kitchen preferably with island, lots of closet space, and lots of windows for natural light.

If money wasn't an issue, what 3 things would you want in your home?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The #SundayFunday (#superhappyfunmagictime) Wedding

On the Sunday of the August long weekend, John and I went to a beautiful wedding to watch two friends say "I do" and then to party the night away with them.
John was the best man and had spent the week leading up to the big day worrying about his speech and wanting to get it just right.
Me, I was busy trying to find a hair-do.
I amalgamated a few that I found on pinterest and did a test run...

...Which went too successfully that I figured I would never be able to recreate it.
The night before I set my hair in 3 french braids to make sure my hair would be as voluminous as I could make it without teasing it beyond recognition.
The effect made it look even cooler.
I did a reverse french braid starting at the top right side of my head and moving down to the bottom left. A reverse french braid is what I call it when you braid the hair under instead of over the other strands.
When I ran out of hair to add to the braid I tied it into a ponytail. Then I used a sock bun to keep the hair off of my neck and out of my face.
Essential for dancing at summer weddings.
Perhaps the ease with which my hair went up was a good omen because the wedding was absolutely beautiful.
The venue was great, the bride looked stunning and the groom very handsome. The bridesmaid's dresses were also something I would have worn and the flowers were so lovely that I made a frantic bid for a centerpiece at the end of the night.
And the band that they had really got the crowd going.

And the food...

I don't remember exactly what each course was but the first was reminiscent of a spring roll but in a much flakier, tastier shell.
The salad was wrapped up in a cucumber lead and came with a grilled mushroom and a toasted slice of baguette topped with an avocado spread.
The main was roasted potatoes and vegetables with chicken and beef.
Desert was two types of fruit sorbet in a sugar cookie-esque bowl with a chocolate dipped bottom.
The wedding cake was pink velvet and we were treated to a late night buffet of mini hotdogs, sliders, fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Everything was delicious.
I just finished watching the newlywed's wedding video for the 10th time... what a beautiful wedding.
I can't thank them enough for letting me be a part of their day and for throwing hands-down the party of the summer.
I wish the newlyweds nothing but love and happiness for the rest of their lives.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake

A week or so ago I came across the most incredible recipe - cinnamon roll cheesecake.
I made it pretty soon after stumbling upon it on pinterest (where else?) and was not disappointed. I didn't make the cream cheese icing to go on top cause I found the cake decadent enough without it.
It takes no more time than a regular cheesecake and it's insanely good. I recomend eating it while still kind of warm out of the oven.
Recipe courtesy of

Cinnamon Roll Batter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Cheesecake filling
  • 2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 eggs
Cinnamon Filling
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • milk (if needed to thin frosting)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease a 9-inch Springform pan.
Cinnamon Roll Batter
  • Using a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
  • Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat for about one minute, scraping down bowl.
  • Add flour, baking powder, and salt to the creamed ingredients. Mix on low speed until throughly combined.
Cheesecake Filling
  • In a separate bowl, use a mixer to beat cream cheese and sugar for about 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating together scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  • Add the vanilla and flour and beat for another minute.
Cinnamon Filling
  • In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.
You have three individual parts to this cheesecake now. The batter, the cheesecake and the filling.
Here is how to put them together:

  • Spread half of the batter onto the bottom of the Springform pan. It will be sticky and thick so spray your hands with baking spray and press down. It will be a thin layer, but trust me it will rise up during baking.
  • Pour all of the cheesecake batter on top of the cinnamon roll batter that is in the prepared pan.
  • Drop spoonfuls of the cinnamon filling over the entire top of the cheesecake.
  • Take the rest of the base batter and drop spoonfuls over the entire top of cheesecake. Once finished, take a knife to swirl the ingredients together. I say swirl, but its really just a big yummy chunky mess– just kind of gently mix all the toppings together without digging into the bottom crust.

I'm working almost every night this week (regular sleep on Wednesday! Heyyyyy) so expect a lot of posts this week!

Friday, August 16, 2013

First Anniversary

It's crazy to think that in just over a week John and I will be celebrating our first anniversary as Mr & Mrs.
Time really does fly.
Last year at this time I was busy finishing up favours for the guests, going over the seating plan, finalizing music selections, and getting really excited.
Since we got married in the Niagara region and then spent the next few days buying cases (literally) of wine, eating slabs of wedding cake, being pampered at the spa, and cuddling in bed, we decided that it would only be right to go back and do it all again.
I booked us into a ... let's call it a not-so-upscale hotel (I didn't want to spend upwards of $300 on a room for one night when we could use that money to buy more wine and/or eat at the Jamie Kennedy restaurant with the ridiculous view).
Bonus points for me: the hotel has a heart shaped hot tub.
It's on my bucket list.
Cheesy honeymoon suite: check.
I also booked us into a Reisling & Oysters tasting at Thirty Bench (the same place we went "snowshoeing" in the vineyard just prior to Kilimanjaro).
I've also been having a hard time deciding what to get John as an anniversary present.
The first anniversary is supposed to be paper but my gosh there aren't a lot of good options for a guy like John.
While I'm sure he would appreciate a cutesy print of our wedding date etc I think it'd be more of a gift for me.
I toyed with the idea of booking him into a mountain climbing excursion but it wouldn't be until at the earliest May and it would be expensive - and he made me promise no expensive gifts because his gift is something for us to do together.
Which made me put my plan to book us into a night ropes course in the trees on hold, because this could very well be what he's planned.
So I came up with this.
(I won't get too specific in the off chance he reads this prior to August 24th)
A card.
Crafted specifically for John's likes and interests.
Which will contain 5 elements.
What are these 5 elements, you ask?
The 5 ways we express love, as John was telling me about earlier today.
I thought, what a perfect thing to incorporate into his gift.
They are (from

Words of affirmation
For some people hearing "I love you", words of praise or compliments are what they value most. These individuals feel that words have more weight than actions and would rather hear "the reasons behind that love" versus any other expression of love. This also means that if something negative or insulting is said to one of these individuals it will not be easily forgiven.

Quality time

For some people spending time with loved ones is their preferred love language. Whether it be a quiet lunch or an afternoon walk, spending quality time and being the focus of their undivided attention leaves them feeling satisfied and comforted more than words. "Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful" to these individuals, since "being there" is crucial.

Receiving gifts

Not all people who enjoy receiving gifts are "materialistic" this just means that for these individuals love is equated with a tangible gift. The gift doesn't have to be extravagant or elaborate, but it does have to be meaningful and thoughtful. So if you know that your partners favourite comedian or band is going to perform and you surprise them with tickets, that would show love behind the gift. But if you were to buy a gift certificate or an impersonal gift, prepare for some serious backlash.

Acts of service

Hearing the phrase "let me do that for you" is music to our ears, but for people who see acts of service as the greatest expression of love, hearing this phrase is like hitting the jackpot! These individuals want their partners to notice that their own responsibilities are grand and sometimes daunting and that a helping-hand every once-an-a-while shows love and care. Just as much as these individuals love acts of service, they do not deal well with broken promises and laziness and have very little tolerance for people who make more work for them, because it shows a lack of value for them.

Physical touch

The language of physical touch doesn't only refer to physical touch and affection in the bedroom, but refers to the everyday physical connections, like handholding, kissing, pats on the back, and any type of re-affirming physical contact. A person who desires physical touch and affection isn't overly touchy-feely but for them touch shows how much their partner cares for them. If that physical bond is broken by abuse their entire relationship can be destroyed indefinitely.

Maybe just before we leave I'll post the finished product.
For now... it's still too early to post it because, who knows, John might get bored and wander onto the blog and ruin the whole thing.
Then we'll just have to buy each other wine.
All the wine.