October 16, 2018

A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast


When you think of a place that makes your heart happy, what comes to mind? 

For me, it’s Ontario’s Blue Coast

A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast

Earlier this fall, we had the chance to explore my old stomping grounds - Ontario Southwest’s Sarnia Lambton. Better known as, Ontario’s Blue Coast. 

Located a short 2 1/2 hours southwest of Toronto and 1 hour north of Detroit, Lambton County is the perfect day or weekend getaway - from arts and culture, to the stunning Lake Huron beaches and everything in between, there are many ways to experience the Blue Coast. And one of the best times of the year to explore is the fall.

With the vast array of scenic drives, fall fairs and farms to explore, there is so much to do in Sarnia-Lambton during the fall months. 

Hop in the car, and join us on our fall family road trip through Ontario’s Blue Coast…

FRIDAY

After leaving Toronto before ‘rush hour’ hit, we arrived in Lambton County early afternoon. We dropped Morley off with Gramma and Poppa and drove to F.I.N.E. a restaurant in Grand Bend for dinner, just mom and dad (and baby Berkley, of course - she doesn’t stray too far from mom yet).

F.I.N.E specializes in regional cuisine with exciting daily specials, utilizing the local wealth of fresh available ingredients. After enjoying the mussels as an appetizer, for the main course I opted for the local pickerel with seasonal veg and Steve had the duck. The peanut butter cheesecake and local wine from Dark Horse, the local winery, were also delicious. 

A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast

We had an amazing dinner experience, and part of that was in thanks to the Grand Bend locals that were also dining. As we had Berkley with us, we were taking turns eating. Pretty typical when we’re out these days, and a cold meal is something we’re now used to. A woman the table next to us asked us if she could hold the babe while we both enjoyed our dinner. Without hesitation, I passed Berkley over. And it didn’t end there - two ladies from the table on the other side of us said they wanted to hold her as well. Safe to say, we enjoyed our meal at F.I.N.E. that much more knowing that Berkley was content. We are very thankful for the complete strangers offering to hold her. Now, I wonder if that would happen in at home in Toronto… (but that’s for another time). 

SATURDAY

We woke up Saturday morning and the sun was shining. We knew it was going to be the perfect day for exploring.

We drove back down Lakeshore Road to Ipperwash Beach, and enjoyed breakfast with the entire family at the Ipperwash Beach Club. This local dining spot is just steps from the Lake Huron beach access tucked away in this quiet community of Lambton Shores. Breakfast consisted of eggs benedict and smoke salmon roti. Both delicious! With a large patio, we could tell it would be a popular spot with all of the cottagers during the summer months and vowed to come back.

A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast
A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast
A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast
A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast

After breakfast, it was time to continue our annual apple picking tradition. This year, we visited Twin Pines Orchards & Cider House, an award-winning cider house located in the countryside. The weather was perfect for hitting the orchard and filling our basket with apples. 

Make note, if you plan to visit, be sure to mark Apple Fest (the last weekend of September) in your calendar. It’s busy, but a great chance to pick your own apples, sample both hard and sweet cider and choose a pumpkin to carve for Halloween. 

A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast
A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast
A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast

After a quick afternoon siesta back at Gramma and Poppa’s house, it was time for more food! Dinner was at Grog’s Pub and Grill, located on Lakeshore Road in Port Franks, not far from Twin Pines. To be honest, I’ve driven past Grog’s many times but have never actually stopped in. Even with an early dinner at 4:30pm, there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. It is definitely a local hot spot. And after enjoying one of their homemade pizzas, we know why. It was delish!

A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast

Safe to say, after our fall fun-filled day, it was an early night for everyone. 

SUNDAY

We woke up Sunday to grey skies and rain. Not the ideal day, but that didn’t stop us from making the most of our last day.

Breakfast was at Highway Girl, a finer food shop in Grand Bend featuring a bakery and cafe with a lovely retro style gift shop with local goods. They offer a wide variety of fair trade specialty coffees and teas, fresh baked delights and pressed juices. Their breakfast bomb (tasty dough filled with egg and bacon) is delicious, and toddler-approved. 

A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast

It’s been years since I have visited the Pinery Market, located along Lakeshore Road not far from the entrance to Pinery Provincial Park. Pinery Market is a family-owned market filled with an eclectic blend of vendors, from local produce and meat to toys, antiques and more. The Market runs every Sunday from the beginning of May until Thanksgiving weekend. Be sure to check their website for all of their fun family events, including Barktober Fest and Superhero Sunday.

A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast

Before heading back to Toronto, we stopped for lunch at the Schoolhouse Restaurant in Grand Bend. Grand Bend Public School opened in 1874 and remained an active school until 1925 when a new school was built. Today, the old schoolhouse is a restaurant filled with history and delicious food. Schoolhouse specializes in from-scratch fare (the biscuits and sausages gravy are seriously delicious), ensuring the finest ingredients make it onto your plate. 

A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast
A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast

With full bellies and full hearts from a weekend of family fun, it was time to hit the road and head back to the concrete jungle of Toronto.

Every time I visit, I’m quickly reminded why I love this little corner of Ontario so much - good food, good scenery and good company make my heart so happy. 

Until next time Blue Coast…

Have you ever visited Ontario's Blue Coast? What is your favourite thing to do there? I'd love to hear!





Disclaimer: This trip was in partnership with Ontario's Southwest and Ontario's Blue Coast, however, all opinions are 100% that of To & Fro.


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A Fall Family Road Trip Through Ontario’s Blue Coast



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October 14, 2018

Two Months Later

Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with Philips Avent. I received products and/or compensation in exchange for this post. All opinions and advice shares are 100% that of To & Fro.

Today marks exactly two months since little miss Berkley came into our lives and turned us into a family of four. 

As we continue to settle in to our new dynamic, I can’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come in the past two months. Despite being our second child, it’s safe to say, we’ve learned a lot. But then again, I don’t think the learning really ever stops with children.

What I've Learned From My Second Child

For my husband and I, we’ve had to relearn what life is like with a newborn. It’s only been 2 years, 7 months and 27 days since Morley was born, but it’s funny how quickly you forget. You forget how tiny they are, how high pitch their little screams can be and you definitely forget those sleepless nights. We’ve had to relearn it all.

Big sister is learning what it truly means to be a big sister - how to be helpful, how to be gentle, how to have patience and how all of the attention is no longer on her. The last one has been a bit of a struggle, but we’re working on it. 

We’ve also learned that sisters can be oh so different. Like, oh so different. While they may have looked nearly identical at birth, they’re slowing proving to be very different in temperament. In fact, the exact opposite. Morley was a fairly easygoing baby - didn’t cry, slept well and liked her space (as in, you could put her down and she would be quite content). Now, think the exact opposite and that’s little sister Berkley. 

Dealing with two kids in itself is a new challenge, but now, there are new things that we are experiencing that Morley never threw at us, including the c word… colic.

I never truly knew what a colicky baby meant until it started taking over my life. It’s exhausting, it’s frustrating and it’s absolutely heartbreaking not being able to do a damn thing about it. But what I’ve learned from other moms is that no matter how stressful it is, it will pass. Things will get better, things will get easier. 

What I've Learned From My Second Child

I may have had to navigate many new obstacles on my journey as a mom of a toddler and newborn, but one thing that I have been able to count on is the products I use, thanks to Philips Avent. 

With a fussy baby, we’ve had to change up the way we do things around here, including the bottles we use. While we’ve always trusted Philips Avent bottles, we are now using the Philips Avent Anti-Colic Bottles with Airfree Vent (4 oz.), designed to reduce colic, gas and reflux. The shape of the nipple allows a secure latch and stays full even when the bottle is horizontal, allowing baby to drink in an upright position so that they swallow less air as they drink. (Available at BabiesRUs and other popular retailers - $12.99 CAD per 4 oz 3 pack)

What I've Learned From My Second Child

And where there’s a bottle, there’s a bottle warmer. The Philips Avent Fast Bottle Warmer heats milk up quickly and evenly in just three minutes. It also features a handy defrost setting, making it safer than defrosting in a microwave and more convenient than using water - perfect for both frozen breast milk or homemade baby food. It is fully compatible with all Philips Avent bottles and containers. (Available at BabiesRUs and other popular retailers - $49.99 CAD)

When she’s not eating, our other secret to calm a fussy baby is the Philips Avent Newborn Soother, perfect for babies up to 2 months old. This dishwasher-safe pacifier is extra small and lightweight for tiny babies, and the collapsible silicone nipple has a symmetrical shape that respects baby’s plate, teeth and gums as they grow. (Available at BabiesRUs and other popular retailers - $8.49 CAD per 2 pack)

What I've Learned From My Second Child

The first 1,000 days are the most important in a baby’s development. Philips Avent has created the #First1000Days journey to provide parents with resources to help them know what to expect every baby step of the way – from newborn to toddler – and feel confident they’re making the right decision for their baby’s future and health, no matter what stage of the journey they’re in.

Philips Avent is the number one brand recommended by moms worldwide, including this one right here. Be better prepared for motherhood, with Philips Avent.

What was the biggest thing you learned from having children? I’d love to hear!



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October 11, 2018

Toddler-Friendly Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies


Have you ever heard of a kid that DOESN’T like chocolate? 

No? Well, they do exist. Because I have that kid… 

If you ask her, she will flat out tell you she doesn't like chocolate. If you try to trick her and hide the chocolate, she'll find it. She will instantly spit it out first bite, and you'll get the point pretty quickly. In true toddler fashion, it's extremely dramatic. 

But, I guess I should say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I don’t have much of a chocolate tooth either. So when I bake, I usually steer towards recipes that are chocolate optional. That means no chocolate chip cookies, no chocolate cake and no banana bread with chocolate chips. My poor sweets-loving husband.

Toddler-Friendly Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

What my toddler does love is peanut butter and oatmeal. Combined, it’s her go-to breakfast. This toddler-friendly recipe for Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies combines the best of both worlds in a snack form, and always leaves her asking for more. 

And despite asking, “Where’s the chocolate?!” after taking his first bite, my husband was a fan too.

Enjoy!

Toddler-Friendly Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 9-11 minutes
Serving Size: approximately 4 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup oil (we used canola)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cup white flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • optional: 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the oil and peanut butter until smooth, about a minute. Add the sugars and beat until creamy.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, baking soda and eggs, beating to combine after each addition.
  4. Add the flour and oatmeal, and beat until just combined.
  5. If using, add the chocolate chips and store to combine.
  6. Scoop approximately 1 tablespoon of cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees F for approximately 9 to 11 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on top.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from cookie sheet.

Toddler-Friendly Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

What is your favourite recipe to make with your kids? I'd love to hear!




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Toddler-Friendly Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies


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