Weekend Getaway

Mom and Babe

I love a quick jaunt out of town. Getting out of the house with baby is a must for this stir crazy new mom.

I headed to Niagara on the Lake, picturesquely snow-dusted and quaint, for four days – while my wife went to Montreal on location for a work shoot.

Travelling with little man is much easier with a solid place to land and since my parents retired in Niagara, it makes for an easy retreat … replete with breweries, trivia nights, great restaurants and all the charm of a turn of the century village – (plus nana and papa’s house has lots of great toys).

Falling asleep early with the moon over the snowy orchards is also pretty sweet. As is having a few extra sets of hands to make showering and brushing your hair possible.

Niagara on the lake, NOTL to the locals, makes for a nice relaxing staycation (with family). And just like that, our little babe is 15 weeks old. We played cards, ate half priced filet mignon burgers and beer tastings. It gave us both a chance to get dressed up to go out.

At Oast House Brewery a gentleman came up to tell us that my son was the best dressed person in the bar. In buffalo plaid, he matched the barkeep and was channeling Gaston (in style only) for an Uber-ironic nod to lumberjacks and small-batch-brewing hipster style.

Side note: If you ever wondered who goes to breweries and keeps them open on a weekday?…it’s a popular meetup spot for nursing Moms. No lie. Seriously… we were at Henderson’s Brewery in Toronto last week, in a snowstorm, on a Tuesday and it was FULL of mommies with babes in arms.

Cheers to another beautiful week with this little guy!

Where is your favourite go-to quick getaway?

Handmade Market 2015

Art

Two weeks after wintery flurries, the temperature hit 31 degrees Celsius – just in time for a gorgeous weekend at 13th Street Winery for the 2015 Handmade Market. The outdoor Spring market had a sprawling maze of vendors, artisans and edibles that wove its way around the grounds of the winery, with a welcome breeze and live guitar and acoustic performances.

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Delicious fries and sandwiches at one of the food trucks, Dobro Jesti.

Tide and Vine.

Tide and Vine: Oysters

This is what happens when you ask my mum to take a photo. Wink wink, Mum!

This is what happens when you ask my mum to take a photo. Wink wink, Mum!

Allia and I deciding where to start.

Allia and me, deciding where to start.

Magnolias were spilling their blossoms.

Magnolia blossoms; everywhere.

Fruit trees and magnolias were in bloom. And the warm weather brought out diverse DIY lovers, both local and visiting, to enjoy some incredible summer scenes.

Enjoying the mood and music on the lawn of 13th Street.

Enjoying the mood and music on the lawn of 13th Street.

Avella's Pizza

Avella’s Pizza

The inside of the winery was also open for tastings.

The inside of the winery was also open for tastings.

TO DO: Park your car in between the rows of grape vines and stroll through the tents, perusing the hand-crafted clothing, soaps, decor, home items and quirky local designers. Or eat your way from one side of the market to the other starting with the handmade margherita pizzas, on to garlic and rosemary basted handcut fries, and finish with a cone of carrot cake ice cream. Seriously. I couldn’t eat it fast enough, and our chatty group was silenced – in a race to eat it before the sun melted this refreshing scoop of heaven.

Hometown Ice Cream.

Hometown Ice Cream.

Always a favourite, the talented Breanne Morrow’s White Feather Designs were on display. Though her designs can be found in some Toronto boutiques, her work is always a must-see in person. Admittedly, I’m partial to her jewelery, since it was Bre who hand-crafted our engagement rings.

White Feather Designs by Breanne Morrow

White Feather Designs by Breanne Morrow: enamel coated brass necklaces with tassels (bottom right) and bracelets (center).

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Earrings, necklaces and rings.

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3D Cut geometric necklaces.

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Necklaces in sterling silver.

Her line has continued to evolve over the years, and whether you find her on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/WFDJewellery  or her online store http://wfdjewellery.com/, her labour-of-love jewels, her livelihood and passion, are both versatile and unique; every time I wear one it’s always a conversation starter.

A new favourite at the show was the work from the design duo at Studio 50 studio50.ca whose concrete, glass and steel designs were so striking and innovative. I can as easily picture these artsy, tough, yet beautiful pieces in my boho kitchen as on the counter in my brother’s sleek, modern Toronto condo. They are seriously some of the most original, cool pieces I have seen, and if money allows, I’ll be buying us some of our own next time we deserve a present (we being my wife and me).

Studio 50 knife blocks, and small round-bottomed science beakers that can be used to serve hot or cold liquids.

Studio 50 knife blocks, and small round-bottomed science beakers that can be used to serve hot or cold liquids.

Sangria, salad dressing, sake, tea, scotch or ... pretty much anything that would look cooler in a round bottom flask.

Sangria, salad dressing, sake, tea, scotch or … pretty much anything that would look cooler in a round bottom flask.

Knife blocks with skewers and ... some instructions to keep you on track.

Knife blocks with skewers and … some product notes to keep you on track.

Their entire line is all handmade and unique. I love the stratified concrete bases.

Their entire line is all handmade and unique. I love the stratified concrete bases.

Not only were the designs beautiful, the artists were truly lovely and happy to chat about their process and passion. Located in Paris, Ontario, one of these beautiful items from Studio 50 is on my list of things I must get for myself one day soon.

The annual craft market is just one of the great ways to support local artists and get outside. Enjoy Spring and stay tuned for more warm-weather indulgence.

Peller Estates and Two Sisters

Foodie, Indulge

We love visiting my parents in Niagara-on-the-lake. It’s like having our own personal bed and breakfast. This week we went to Chicks and Chocolate (a pairing event offered at Peller Estates) to sample wines and chocolate, as well as their neighbouring winery, Two Sisters.

We started in the upper tasting room with four glasses and four intriguing chocolates.

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A flight of wine and chocolate

We began with the sparkling Ice Cuvée Rosé, a Champagne-style wine infused with icewine, to cleanse our palates.

Paired with a chocolate from Madagascar.

Paired with a chocolate from Madagascar.

Then we moved on to one of my favourites, the 2012 Sur Lie Chardonnay: a huge, buttery Chardonnay that reminds me of oatmeal raisin cookies. We paired it with a milk chocolate, and learned about listening to the break of the chocolate, smelling the fresh cut edge, feeling the back of the chocolate and pressing it to the roof of our mouth.

Wines one and two.

Wines one and two.

Chocolate number two.

Chocolate number two.

There are worse ways to spend an afternoon. Our hour took us through all four of the pairings. Next, the merlot: a ripe, fruit forward wine, paired with the third chocolate.

Santa Domingo, 70%.

Santa Domingo, 70%.

A tasting table set for the event.

A tasting table set for the event.

The final taste.

The final taste.

We concluded our tasting with an incredible Cab Franc Icewine, as José guided us through the proper tasting methods.

It’s always good to get a refresher. Despite working at Peller a number of years ago, I love learning new things and trying wines; the best advice: you are never wrong. No one else can tell you what you smell or taste.

As we left Peller, we decided to stop in at Two Sisters, a winery I had never visited before. The imposing facade certainly seems to have something to do with the high price-point for their wines. Each detail of the interior was equally well-chosen for visual impact.

Two Sisters Winery

Two Sisters Winery

The grand entrance

The grand entrance

Tasting room and store

Tasting room and store

The bar

The bar

Tasting tables

Tasting tables

All told, this is a lovely way to spend the day; I hope one day you get a chance to try Niagara’s unique wines, influenced by our cold climate and escarpment, and to experience the hospitality of our sweet, chilly in Spring, but wholly welcoming peninsula.

Wine. Love. Wine.

Wine. Love. Wine.