September 26, 2016

What I'm Reading: September

Book Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch


by Blake Crouch

"A mindbending, relentlessly surprising thriller from the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy."

Book Review: Dark Matter by Blake CrouchI'm going to get straight to the point with this book review - I loved it and couldn't put it down.  I love a good murder mystery but very rarely steer towards the sci-fi genre. This time, I'm glad I did. In his newest title, Crouch perfectly blended the two genres.  I really have no idea how to review this book without spoiling the whole plot. But, what I can tell you is that this book is twisted, thought provoking, makes you feel super tiny and keeps you wanting more. 

Blake Crouch has sold over a million books and six of his books have hit the Kindle Top 10, with two in the #1 spot. His Wayward Pines series has been made into a TV series and is directed by M. Night Shyamalan. He has been featured in Time Magazine, the L.A. TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and Entertainment Weekly

And good news, after the success of Wayward Pines, Crouch is currently writing the Dark Matter screenplay for Sony Pictures. Definitely a movie I will see. But also one that I actually read the book for first. 

To & Fro rating: ★ ★ ★  1/2 out of 5 stars

March  |  April  |  May  |  June  |  July  |  August

What books have you read lately?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are 100% my own. 

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September 21, 2016

A Visit to 3 of My Favourite Canadian Cities

Canada is such a beautiful country. I don't think you really get the full appreciation for how big and how beautiful it is until you see it with your own two eyes.

I've had the privilege of travelling a large portion of the country, crossing Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec off of my list. This past year alone, I've been lucky enough to set foot in three provinces - Alberta, Manitoba and the one we call home, Ontario. Every single time I visit a new city or province, I am blown away by its beauty, the people and the things to see and do. 

Discover Your Canada with Radisson + a Giveaway

I think it's pretty obvious that I'm a big fan of zoos and aquariums - they are a great place to visit with family, an amazing learning opportunity, and give you the chance to explore the wide range of animals that call this planet home. Whenever we venture to a new city, scoping out their zoo or aquarium is high on my list.

Of course, that's the first thing I did when I visited Winnipeg, Manitoba and Edmonton, Alberta, and enjoyed a Canadian staycation in Toronto, Ontario, this past year.  

If you find yourself in one of these cities, I definitely recommend adding these top attractions to you "to do" lists.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Winnipeg is home to the Assiniboine Park Zoo. While there are over 80 acres of Zoo to explore, the highlight for me was the award-winning Journey to Churchill exhibit. Two words, polar bears. And all of my other favourite Arctic animals. As a leader in the Zoo community, and with its proximity to polar bear territory, the Assiniboine Park Zoo plays a large role in polar bear research, conservation and education in Canada. The comprehensive exhibit allows visitors to discover the magic of the North, while making a connection with these iconic Arctic species. 

Insider tip: If you visit, make sure you spend a good chunk of time in the Gateway to the Arctic building. The impressive Sea Ice Passage gives visitors the rare opportunity to view polar bears and seals swim from below the surface of the water. 

Discover Your Canada with Radisson + a Giveaway
Discover Your Canada with Radisson + a Giveaway

Other recommended attractions to visit in Winnipeg: Assiniboine Park, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, The Forks

Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton is home to the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Nestled on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, this small zoo is home to approximately 350 animals from all different climates and habitats.   While no polar bears call this place home, you will have the opportunity to see wolves and lemurs, tigers, owls and more! The lemurs and wolves were definitely my favourite. The Zoo is currently undergoing a renewal which will recreate natural habitats for the animals that live here, enhancing their quality of life and allowing guests to better appreciate the natural world.  

Insider tip: If you visit, plan to check out their daily animal talks, a great chance to learn more about some of your favourite animals.

Discover Your Canada with Radisson + a Giveaway
Discover Your Canada with Radisson + a Giveaway

Other recommended attractions to visit in Edmonton: West Edmonton Mall, Telus World of Science, Muttart Conservancy

And while I love exploring new cities, sometimes a staycation is in order as well…

Toronto, Ontario

While Toronto is home to the Toronto Zoo, this mermaid at heart is pretty partial to Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. Located in the heart of downtown, directly underneath the CN Tower, the Aquarium is home to over 16,000 marine animals, including 450 species of fish and invertebrates and two green sea turtles. Not only do they have 57 live exhibits and 5.7 million litres of water to ogle over, they also have some pretty incredible experiences, from touch tanks to dive shows and more. 

Insider tip: If you're into an adventure, check out one of their many paid guest experiences, such as diving with the sharks or swimming with the stingrays. I highly recommend both. 

Discover Your Canada with Radisson + a Giveaway
Discover Your Canada with Radisson + a Giveaway

Other recommended attractions to visit in Toronto: Toronto Zoo, CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum

Planning a visit to one of my favourite Canadian cities?

Whether you're visiting family and friends, road tripping across Canada or crossing iconic Canadian landmarks off your bucket list, let Radisson help you get there and save big! With locations in several Canadian cities, each hotel is uniquely designed with individual style all their own. 

Explore your own Canada with Radisson and take advantage of savings up to 20%! Details found here.

Discover Your Canada with Radisson + a Giveaway
Radisson Admiral Hotel
Located downtown Toronto, on the Harbourfront, steps from Ripley's Aquarium of Canada.

**Giveaway for an e-certificate for a one-night stay at any Radisson in Canada or the US in NOW CLOSED (10/3/16 at 11:59pm EST), and the winner has been contacted.  Thank you to everyone that entered, and for your continued support of To & Fro!**

Get out there and explore!

Of all the Canadian Radisson locations, which city is your favourite to visit, or on your must see list, and why?


September 19, 2016

Morley: A Birth Story

It’s hard to believe that 15 months ago those two little lines made an appearance telling us that a baby was on the way. Now that 6 months have passed since our baby girl entered the world, I figured there’s no better time than now to sit down and share the story of her birth.

Morley: A Birth Story
Morley at 1 week old.

The due date was set: March 25, 2016. However, from about the beginning of my third trimester, my doctor had started telling me that she wouldn’t be surprised if baby made an early appearance. The more people I told this to, the more told me not to get my hopes up. I, on the other hand, was in full on panic mode. What did early mean? One week? Two? When should I leave work? Was I going to give birth on the subway?

My 39 week appointment fell on Wednesday, March 16. According to the doctor, I was 4 cm dilated. Before she walked out of the room I heard her mutter the words, “Maybe see you next week, maybe not.” I like to be prepared for things, and hearing that, I definitely did not feel prepared. The more I thought about what she said on the way home from my appointment, the more I started to freak out . Isn’t 4cm almost half way? How will I know if I go into labour? Shouldn’t I be feeling things already? I knew Google would have the answers I was looking for. 

The next day, we picked up my sister at the airport. She was flying in from Edmonton and didn’t want to miss her niece/nephew’s debut. That night, as my husband and sister celebrated St Patrick’s Day the way most people do, this preggo hypochondriac sat on the couch and continued to Google “How will I know if I’m in labour?”.  The last thing I wanted was to have this baby in the bathtub. Clearly I have issues.

Learn how to take your own at home silhouette maternity photos here

The morning of Friday, March 18 was more of the same, spent on Google. To calm my mind, we decided to make a stop by the assessment room at the hospital, just to see if things had progressed at all. I definitely did not think we’d be there long, but to be safe, I had laid a few overnight items out on the bed, along with baby’s bag that had been packed for a few weeks. 

I sat hooked up to monitors for what seemed like hours, when in reality, it was more like an hour.  Apparently the nurse saw something because she told us to go walk around for an hour and come back. We went to the mall, the logical place for some walking.

At 4:30pm, we ventured back to the hospital and I was immediately hooked up to the monitors again. About an hour later, the nurse came back. I for sure thought we’d be sent home because I still was not feeling anything, despite now being 5cm. “How do you feel about having a baby tonight?”, she casually said. I really don’t think we had a choice in the matter, but my husband and I both looked at each other and said, “Let’s do it!”. The preparations started immediately. I was whisked off to the delivery room, and my sister got on the phone and called our parents to let them know and went and collected the belongings from our apartment that I had laid out earlier that morning. 

Because I wasn’t in ‘active labour’, my water needed to be broken to get things rolling. I had learned a few weeks before that my doctor would be on vacation around the time of delivery, and had fully prepared myself for the doctor welcoming baby to be a stranger. Male or female, it really didn’t bother me, I was just ready to get the little human out. My husband had also prepared himself for the uncomfortable fact that the doctor could be male, but he too just wanted to meet baby. Our hospital is a teaching hospital, so when a male resident doctor came in to break my water, prepared or not, the look on Steve’s face was priceless. Anyways, details spared, the resident couldn’t do it, so he had to get the doctor on call. A few minutes later, the doctor who would be delivering baby walked in. To rewind a bit, our 20 week anatomy scan was done by a male doctor. If you saw this guy on the street, you would not think he was an OB. He was tall, dressed well, and for lack of a better term, was a silver fox (both my husband and I agreed). For the sake of this story, we’ll call him McDreamy. So, when McDreamy walked through the delivery room doors to break my water, both my husband and I’s jaws dropped. “Of course”, is what I hear my husband say under his breath. All I could think of was how I needed to tell my mom, sister, sister in law and mother in law to check out the doctor that will be delivering their future grandchild/niece/nephew. 

By 6:30pm, my water was broken and the contractions started immediately. Now I definitely knew I was in labour. I don’t even think I made it an hour before an epidural was ordered. Although I consider myself to have a high pain tolerance, I had decided early on in my pregnancy that I would have an epidural. I applaud those that go with a natural birth, however, it was and is not for me. 

By this time our families had all made it to the hospital, and were anxiously awaiting the arrival. At 11:00pm, the delivery room was cleared and it was ‘go time’. To say the labour was easy would be a lie, I was exhausted. There are two things I remember most about that hour. One, my hair would not stay tied back and I was constantly fidgeting with it. Never again will I go for the ‘mom cut’ that close to being due. And two, at some point I told Steve, who was lovingly holding my hand and encouraging me the whole time, that we would NEVER be doing this again. 

A short hour later, at 12:01am on March 19, McDreamy said the words we are still shocked that we heard, “It’s a girl”. We had a daughter, and we were beyond excited. Morley Michael Theresa had entered the world, weighing a whopping 8 lbs 2 oz and measuring 21 inches in length.

She came out wide-eyed and quiet, absolutely no screaming. The nurses tried their hardest to get her to cry and clear her lungs, but she just wasn't having it. We saw a bit of panic in their eyes, which in turn made us a little worried as well. When she still hadn't cried after being poked and prodded, she was hooked up to an oxygen monitor, "just to be safe", which of course made us panic even more. Little did we know at the time, her lack of crying was just an early sign of her personality to come - happy, content and super easy going. Or, stubborn like her mom. 

After things had calmed down a bit, Steve walked out into the waiting room to share the news with our family. Everyone pulled an all nighter as we celebrated the new arrival, and first grand child on both sides. 

We often get many questions about her name and where it came from. Michael and Theresa are family names, representing my dad (who has always wanted a girl named Michael) and Steve’s mom. The story behind Morley is a bit different, and makes us sound either super hip or like a 70 year old couple. On CBC radio, there is a talk program called Vinyl Cafe. The host, Stuart Mclean, shares many short stories from listeners across Canada and of his own writing, such as the adventures of a quirky couple named Dave and Morley. To say we love Vinyl Cafe is an understatement - we listened to it on our journey home from Alaska and despite only planning our wedding at the time, both agreed that if we had a girl, she would be Morley. And at 12:01am on March 19, we had our Morley.

Let's take a look back at the past 6 months...

You may also like...

Some of our favourite baby products: 
1 month  |  2 months  |  4 months

And those baby products that didn't make the cut: 
Baby Product Fails

What I've learned: 

Happy Monday!

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September 16, 2016

So Long Sweet Summer

It's hard to believe it's already September. It seems just like yesterday I had a 3 month old, was celebrating my 30th birthday and we were just trying to keep cool in the summer heat and humidity. 

Summer 2016 has flown by. Is anyone else with me on that one?

Summer 2016 Recap

One thing I do know for sure is that we made many great memories this summer. Before we dream of all things fall, let's take a quick look back at summer 2016:

In JUNE, I took a look back on the last decade as I said goodbye to my 20s and Morley took her first airplane ride when we ventured to Edmonton, Alberta to visit my little sister and celebrate a good friend's wedding. 

Favourite posts:
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Taco Bowls
Must See Phenomena in Alaska
Lessons From My 3 Month Old
Camping Reflections

Summer 2016 Recap

In JULYMorley became a 5th generation family cottager when we introduced her to one of our favourite places.

Favourite posts:

Summer 2016 Recap

In AUGUST, I checked off one of my bucket list items, diving with sharks and we spent some more quality time at the lake

Favourite posts:
Diving with Sharks at Ripley's Aquarium
Life is Better at the Lake
Tips for Flying with an Infant
Fresh Peach Crisp Recipe
Lessons From My 5 Month Old

Summer 2016 Recap

And technically, since summer is not officially over until the calendar hits September 22...

So far this SEPTEMBER, we started a new end of summer family tradition, taking Morley to the CNE and have enjoyed taking advantage of the somewhat cooler temperatures.  Mama and baby were starting to go a little stir crazy being cooped up inside this summer. 

Summer 2016 Recap

As much as I love the sunshine of summer, I am so happy to live in a place that experiences fall. While it means the weather is getting colder, the changing colour of the leaves makes me happy. 

So long sweet summer, bring on the fall!

How was your summer? What memories did you make? 


September 14, 2016

Fruit Filled Adult Pop Tarts

Pop tarts bring back many childhood memories. You knew it was going to be a good day if you had a pop tart for breakfast. However, as an adult, my taste buds have clearly changed. If you were to give me one today, you'd probably have to pay me to eat it. How did I actually enjoy eating that processed, sprinkle-covered, particle-board like rectangle we called breakfast? 

I’m all about taking advantage of local produce during the summer months. And as the summer comes to an end, I find myself scrambling to get one last fix before the fruit growing season is over.  One of my favourite local fruit is peaches, grown in Ontario’s Niagara Region. Combined with local yellow plums, I made these delicious fruit-filled adult pop tarts.  These ooey gooey (non particle board-like) fruit filled tarts are perfect for a grab and go breakfast, to accompany your morning coffee or warmed with a little ice cream for dessert. 

Fruit Filled Adult Pop Tarts Recipe

Fruit-Filled Adult Pop Tarts

Yields: approximately 12 tarts

  • 2 cups fruit of choice, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp white sugar + reserve for sanding
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • juice 1/2 orange
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 10 inch pie crusts, thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together fruit, sugar, orange zest and juice, salt and cornstarch until well combined. Set aside.
  4. Remove one pie crust from tin. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out into an approximate 15x10 inch rectangle. Cut into six 5 inch squares. Repeat with second pie crust.
  5. Working with one square at a time, place approximately two tablespoons of fruit mixture in the centre or the dough. 
  6. Brush two connecting edges with beaten egg and fold on the diagonal over filling, pressing the seal. Repeat with remaining squares.
  7. Place triangle-shaped pies on prepared baking sheet. Brush lightly with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Using a pair of clean kitchen scissors, make a small cut in the centre of each pie to allow steam to escape when baking.
  9. Bake until crusts are golden brown and filling is bubbling, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
  10. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.

Fruit Filled Adult Pop Tarts Recipe

Home chef tips: 

The secret to making this recipe easier is using store bought frozen pie crust for the pastry. Ain’t no body got time to make the homemade stuff. Unless you do, then kudos to you.

The fruit used in these pop tarts doesn't need to be limited to plums and peaches like the ones I made. You can really add whatever fruit you'd like. I would love to try them with apples or berries!

Fruit Filled Adult Pop Tarts Recipe

Who says pop tarts are just for kids?!

Are you a pop tart fan? What is your favourite fruit flavour? I’d love to hear!

If you enjoy taking advantage of local produce, be sure to check out these recipes:

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September 12, 2016

In My Daughter's Eyes

It's funny how you remember the exact moment a significant event occurs. I will never forget where I was the morning of September 11, 2001. It was grade 10 and my first period fitness class was just ending. I was in the shower, washing off the sweat from the unpleasant morning run. Second shower stall on the right. 

I didn’t hear the initial announcement from the principal over the rushing water of the shower. But, when I got out, someone in my class filled me on what had just happened. It was something along the lines of, "A plane hit a building in New York City." I didn't fully understand.

Despite living in Canada, everything came to a standstill at school that morning. Our focus shifted from getting the semester started to the many TVs set up in the classrooms and discussing what this meant for us, for our cousins south of the border, and for the rest of the world.

It’s crazy to believe that 15 years have passed since that day. Fifteen years have passed since that innocent 15 year old girl had to learn how cruel the world she calls home can really be.

protecting our future generations

As my daughter napped yesterday morning, I sat on the couch and watched the many tributes to those that lost their lives on that earth shattering day. It made me sad. It made me sad for all of those affected, both for those who lost their lives and for their loved ones. It made me sad for my generation. It made me sad for our future generations. And, it made me sad for my daughter, who was sleeping peacefully in her crib with her Johnny Cash lullabies playing in the background, innocently unaware of the significance of the day.

While she is only six months old, in my daughter's eyes, the world as she knows it is a peaceful, happy one. Significant moments in history that we have witnessed, both happy and sad, are things that she will one day learn from a text book. Or, whatever piece of technology has replaced the text book at that time.

As I currently watch her sitting contently on the living room floor, playing with her toys, I see it. I see it as she happily plays with the plastic measuring spoons I have given her as a distraction tool. And I see it when my frustration and tiredness have built to an all time high, yet all she does is smile when she sees my face. The innocence of a child is an amazingly beautiful thing, but it is also heartbreaking. 

As mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, we long to protect our children’s innocence, to shield them from the stark realities of the world we live in. Nowadays, children's minds are filled with violence and disturbing images they see online or on TV, when all they should be concerned about is just being a child. At 15 years old, I shouldn't have had to of known what a terrorist attack was. Yet, in today’s day, the word is becoming more and more common. 

Whether it is a warming climate, environmental destruction, rapidly advancing technology, financial crises or countries at war, I can't help but think, when my daughter is that innocent 15 year old girl, when she is welcoming a family of her own and when she is entering the years beyond, what will the world be?

“Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” - Walt Disney quote

“Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”- Walt Disney

I know I can't protect my daughter forever. I know she is not immune to what goes on around her. Eventually, she will have to learn for herself. But, I can help her. I can teach her by leading by example, by showing gratitude, and most importantly, by letting her know, that no matter what does go on, what it means to be loved.

Do you have the same worries for the children of today and for our future generations? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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September 9, 2016

Introducing Baby to Solids + FREE Printable

Introducing Baby to Solids + FREE Baby Food Diary Printable

Since she was born, Morley has LOVED to eat. She does what we call the 'predator shake' - this aggressive lunging and shaking manoeuvre - when food is near. Sometimes even with her eyes closed. Does anyone else's babes do this?

As we approached 5 months, it seemed as if she wasn't as satisfied with nursing or her bottle the same way she was the 4 months before - she was easily distracted, often still hungry after and way more into the food we were eating. So, with the green light from her doctor, we started to introduce solids. Now almost a month later, the girl is an absolute food monster and has loved everything we've given her, from avocado and peas to sweet potatoes and peaches.

Now, I'm no expert at introducing baby to solids, and this is not a "how to" post. You can find plenty of those on Pinterest. Instead, I'm sharing some of my favourite baby feeding products, including a FREE downloadable baby food diary printable.

Best Baby Feeding Products + FREE Baby Food Diary Printable

Favourite Baby Feeding Products

1. Peg Perego Siesta High Chair
This is easily one of our new favourite baby items! The multifunctional, ultra compact high chair has five reclining positions for feeding, playing and resting, providing the ultimate comfort and making it suitable for newborn, baby and toddler. The tray comes with a dishwasher safe liner and is removable, and the chair itself has multiple height positions to allow the child to sit at the table or closer to the floor. Locking wheels allow the chair to move from room to room, and when space is tight, the chair folds quickly and compactly for easy storage. The chair is made from stain resistant, durable fabric that is easy to remove and wipe clean, and comes in six beautiful colours.

2. NutriBullet Hi-Speed Blender/Mixer System, Original
If you plan on making your own baby food, it is smart to invest in a quality blender. Sure there are small baby food-specific blenders on the market, but I recommend purchasing one that is dual purpose and can be used for the whole family. With 600 watts of power, NutriBullet extracts nutrition from within whole foods, providing an easy, tasty, highly absorbable way to consume superfoods like spinach, berries, beets and more.

3. Munchkin Click Lock Fresh Food Freezer Trays, 2-Pack
If you plan on making your own baby food, these freezer trays are also a must. They feature airtight, click lock lids to keep your food fresh and free of odours and freezer burn. The trays are stackable for easy storage and can hold 12 one ounce portions each. They are made from BPA-free plastic and are safe for use in the top rack of the dishwasher.

4. Munchkin Love-A-Bowls, 10-Piece Set
This set of four interchangeable bowls comes with four lids and two soft-tip spoons, making it the perfect starter kit for solid feeding. Love-a-Bowls are guaranteed spill-proof, leak-proof and break-proof and can be used in the microwave, freezer and dishwasher. They are the perfect size to use for dinner time feeds or snacks on the go, and stack for easy storage.

5. Gerber Graduates Rest Easy® Spoons, 5-Count
Each Rest Easy spoon has a built-in support that helps keep germs off the spoon and food off the table. The soft tip and spatula bowl help wipe food from baby's mouth and the long handles are perfect for getting the last few scoops from a deep jar or bowl. These spoons are BPA-free, dishwasher safe and recommended for babies 4 months and older.

6. Sugarbooger Happy Camper Mini Bib Gift Set-of-Two
Kids are messy eaters, especially when they're just learning how. Durable bibs are a must! Sugarbooger has a lot of great bib designs, but we love this one because of its 'outdoorsiness'. Featuring two different patterns, this two-piece go-anywhere mini-bib set has simple snap closures  for easy on and off, and are machine washable.

Best Baby Feeding Products + FREE Baby Food Diary Printable

So you've done your research on when to start, what foods to introduce, how to introduce them or even make them yourself and, thanks to the list above, know all of the gadgets to make feeding time easier. Now, all you need is a way to keep track of what you're feeding and when.

When introducing baby to new solids, timing is important to make sure their tiny bodies can handle certain foods. Once we started introducing different types of fruits and veggies to Morley, I found it more and more difficult to keep track of what we had introduced and when. So, I designed a baby food diary to hang on our fridge. The diary allows us to keep track of what and how much we feed her on a certain day and when we introduce a new food, as well as any notes on feeding. I found that this was also a very helpful tool for communicating with my husband if he worked late and missed dinner, or if family was looking after her for a evening, so that they too could see what she ate that day and let us know how she did at dinner.

Introducing Baby to Solids + FREE Baby Food Diary Printable

Now you can have this printable for yourself! Get To & Fro's FREE Baby Food Diary printable (2 pages, PDF) HERE.

Introducing Baby to Solids + FREE Baby Food Diary Printable

What are your tips and tricks for introducing baby to solids? Do you have any favourite products? I'd love to hear from you!

You may also like...

Some of our favourite baby products: 1 month  |  2 months  |  4 months

And those baby products that didn't make the cut: Baby Product Fails

What I've learned: 10 Things I've Learned as a New Mom  |  Lessons From My 3 Month Old  &  5 Month Old

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*This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Purchasing items through these links helps support To & Fro. Thank you!

September 7, 2016

CNE: An End of Summer Family Tradition

While the end of summer doesn't technically come until the calendar hits September 22, the Labour Day long weekend is always a good excuse to celebrate the changing of the seasons.

Here in Toronto, Labour Day weekend also means the last days of the Canadian National Exhibition (also known as the CNE or The Ex), which, for most Torontonians, is an end of summer family tradition. After this weekend, we can officially say it is for our family too.

CNE: An End of Summer Family Tradition

The CNE was founded in 1879 as the Toronto Industrial Exhibition for the purpose of "fostering the development of agriculture, industry and the arts". By 1912, the name was officially changed to the Canadian National Exhibition. At that time, the fairgrounds covered close to 350 acres and included one of the finest amusement parks and permanent exhibition facilities in the world. Today, the fair continues to be Canada's largest community event and one of Ontario’s great annual traditions, welcoming more than 1.6 million visitors over the 18 day span leading up to Labour Day. 

CNE: An End of Summer Family Tradition

Having grown up a few hours from Toronto, the CNE was never one of my end of summer family traditions. However, the exact opposite is true for my Toronto born husband. It wouldn't be a summer for him without a trip to the CNE. Now, it won't be a summer for our family without a trip to the CNE. While our first visit with Morley was shorter than normal because it was so hot and so busy, we made sure to hit up the important parts, our two favourite buildings - the food and the farm.

The CNE is known for its fun and wacky food, and each year the food booths create new menu items more outrageous than the last. This year there was the Canadian Bacon Taco (a taco wrapped in peameal bacon), the Bug Dog (a hotdog sprinkled with "the protein of the future" - dried crickets), the Churro Burger (an all beef patty sandwiched between two churros), the Pulled Pork Cinnamon Roll (your favourite breakfast treat piled high with BBQed meat) and more!

CNE: An End of Summer Family Tradition

While we didn't go completely outrageous with our food choices, we also didn't stick to your normal fair food of turkey legs and corn dogs. Steve was sold at the words 'Jamaican' and 'patty' and went with a Jamaican Patty Burger, which sandwiched a traditional hamburger patty, a breaded chicken patty and all the fixings between a beef Jamaican patty. My parents opted for a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich and the bison poutine which included everyone's favourite traditional poutine loaded with bison meat. My stomach had eyes for the Hangry Hashbrowns, the perfect description for how I was feeling while trying to decide amongst the 100+ booths in the food building. The traditional breakfast hashbrowns were loaded with gravy, cheese sauce, ham, green onions, a fried egg and ketchup chips. For dessert, it was a Caramel Chimney Stax. 

CNE: An End of Summer Family Tradition
CNE: An End of Summer Family Tradition

After filling our bellies, we took a trip to the farm. The Farm building showcases trends in urban agriculture, such as balcony gardens and backyard beekeeping, while providing an opportunity to see approximately 140 farm animals up close. Morley has recently taken a liking to animals, so it was fun to see her reaction to the llamas, sheep, cows, pigs and more. 

CNE: An End of Summer Family Tradition
CNE: An End of Summer Family Tradition

Our visit to the CNE was a successful one, and baby girl was out even before we left the fair grounds.  I can't wait to continue this end of summer family tradition and see the fair through Morley's eyes as she grows.

CNE: An End of Summer Family Tradition

Did you miss out on the CNE this year? Make sure to mark your calendar for summer 2017 (August 18 - September 4, TBC)! And for more information on the fair's location, history, what to expect, etc., check this out.

Have you been to the CNE? 
Do you have any end of summer family traditions?

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