Viamede Resort Vacation Weekend

 

Jason, Finn & I were lucky to be able to go away last weekend to the beautiful Viamede Resort on Stoney Lake, close to Buckhorn.  Thanks to Charming Media and the staff at Viamede for making this a weekend to remember.  I felt a little bit like we were at Kellerman’s and kinda expected Johnny & Baby to walk out from one of the cabins on their way to do activities 🙂

I left work a little early on Friday to go home and pack up myself & the puppy – and I only took 1 small suitcase with me!  Jason came home, cleaned up and we jumped in the car and headed out around 430pm.

Finn was pretty excited to go away and Harley was ecstatic to not have a puppy to bug him for the weekend while he gallivanted around the neighborhood 🙂

We arrived just before 8pm on Friday night (it only takes about 2.5 hours but we hit rush hour, took some backroads around it, and made a couple stops).  We checked in and were told the Boathouse Pub would be open for dinner AND that there was a movie night set up outside the marina.

We went straight to our cottage #420 and it was the last one in the row, so a little more private, which we loved.  We walked in and it was such a cute and charming little weekend spot.  We had the Deluxe Cottage room, which came with a full kitchen, huge bathtub and woodstove!

            

We took Finn for a walk to check out our surroundings and watched the breathtaking sunset across the lake.  Jason & I used to do sunset as much as possible when we lived in Fort Myers Beach, FL, but haven’t had the chance as often as we’d like in the city.

 

After our walk, we took Finn back to the cottage while we went to grab a bit to eat.  We decided to order food to take back to our room and had a couple beers at the bar while waiting.

We were definitely a little silly after travelling for so long and it was nice to relax and wait for our meals.  We took our fried dill pickles, burger and veggie wrap back to the cottage and Finn was just hanging out, chewing on his bone and waiting for us like a good boy.

We ate our food and sat out on the deck for a couple drinks and then headed to bed.  There was a TV in our cottage, which is a real luxury because we don’t have one (and I haven’t had a TV/cable in over 5 years now) and we watched a bit of 48 hours and crashed.

Finn is a creature of habit and at 630am he woke up and wanted to play.  Luckily Jason got up with him so I could sleep in a bit longer.  The boys went for a long walk and actually met up with the Executive Chef Matt & his white boxer Oscar.

They came back around 830am when I was waking up (yes, we were up super early) and we gave Finn breakfast and then headed up to the main resort for the continental brunch buffet.  Now I’ve had my share of continental breakfasts and this was by far the best.  The food was fresh and hot with a great variety.  Eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon, fruit, yogurt, granola, pastries, toast, croissants.  Everything was absolutely delicious and was a perfect start to the day.

 

After breakfast we went back to the cabin to get Finn and again, he was waiting for us and just chewing his bone and not the cabin (he’s only 7 months so this is a big accomplishment).  We headed down to our little private waterfront and spent the rest of the morning/early afternoon in the water, throwing sticks and suntanning.

 

We brought some food with us and made a late lunch and then decided to check out the Marina to see if we could rent a boat.  Rentals were reasonably priced around $225/day, but it was a little out of our budget for the weekend so we headed back up to the cottage to pick up Finn and go for a walk.

 

 

We went down the trails to the Viking Oak Tree and over to the Farm.  It was Finn’s first time seeing animals other than dogs/cats/squirrels and he was so funny to watch.  The first thing we saw were the turkeys and they were all squaking at him and right up at the fence.  He was so puzzled and excited it was hilarious.

We walked along a little more and came to the pigs and Finn wanted to get in their area because they have a little pond and a mudpit.  Blonde puppies LOVE muddy water and he searched along the fence to see if he could find an “in”.

 

The pigs were pretty cute and were very curious about Finn.  Then we came to the ducks and chicken pen and again, Finn had no idea what to make of them.  He was a little scared, but pretty excited to see other creatures.

On our way back to the cottage Finn found a muddy swamp to get in and we tried as hard as we could to keep him from getting in, but alas, he dove in head first and laid down in the muck.

We finally arrived back at our cottage and decided to have a nap.  Yes, it seems a little funny to nap on such a beautiful day, but Jason generally works 6-7 days/week so to actually have time to relax was amazing.

 

After our nap we went back to the Boathouse Pub for dinner – we weren’t able to go to the 1885 Restaurant in the Main Building due to a wedding (which was beautiful and romantic and we had a private view from our deck) but I’m told that the dinner is delicious.  We ate in the restaurant and left Finn on his own at the cabin again.

After dinner we fired up Jason’s BioLite – which is a very cool gadget that creates electricity so you can charge your phone, play music, etc., and we spent the night drinking beer in front of our mini, contained fire.

Sunday morning we slept in a little longer.  Finn still woke up at 630am to pee, but we had his 25 ft rope tied to the tree outside our door so he was able to hang out and play outside while we slept in.  We finally got up around 830, showered and headed over to the main resort for the continental buffet breakfast – and it was every bit as good as the day before!  We headed back to our cottage to pack up and found Finn sleeping in the white bed.  Sorry to the housekeeping staff!  He was super happy to be on the bed but a little dirtty for the white sheets & duvet cover.

We checked out and headed back to the city feeling refreshed and recharged after such a lovely time.

If you’re looking for a great, family & pet friendly cottage getaway I highly recommend checking out Viamede.  We will be back next year and hopefully for a week this time because it was just perfect.  And it would be a lovely place to get married at… just saying… it has enough cottages for all your guests, is a beautiful venue and you can bring your pets.  What could be better for a wedding or vacation?

Thanks again to the wondeful staff at Viamede for making this such a great weekend and thank you to Val & Charming Media for the opportunity.  We can’t wait to go back!
For the full Viamede Resort photo album click HERE

The Earl of Whitchurch Gastropub

This weekend we were up North and on Saturday night Jason, Kyle and I walked down to The Earl of Whitchurch to have some drinks on the patio.  The Earl, as it’s known locally, is a staple in the town of Stouffville and my Dad’s band has played there for years.  It closed late last year (after a fire I believe) and this weekend was it’s Grand Re-Opening under new management.

We walked in and checked out the taps – I was excited because they have Mill Street Lemon Tea beer on tap!  We went out back to their huge patio for drinks and our server brought us menus.  We weren’t hungry but after taking a look at the delicious menu we couldn’t help ourselves!  I forgot to take a pic to share but next time I’m in town will do so and update the post.

We ordered pints first, I had the Mill Street Lemon Tea beer (which has been MIA at my local LCBO 🙁 ) and the boys ordered a Palm draft.  It was so nice to sit out in the sun and relax with a cold beer.  We invited Dad to join us, but he was tired from his day of building decks/sheds/backyard stuff.

The food was absolutely delicious.  The boys split a Scotch Egg appetizer and I had the house salad with a lemon vinaigrette.

 

Now The Earl has done something pretty amazing for their vegetarian customers.  They have actually CREATED A VEGETARIAN MAIN COURSE instead of just giving a pasta or sandwich options.  This amazing vegetarian main course options was VEGETARIAN SHEPARD’S PIE!  A hearty, classic pub favourite.  And of course I ordered it, curious to see if it could top my famous (in my mind) veggie shepard’s pie.

And I have to admit that they did a fabulous job and I may copy this delicious version and make it myself.  The base was carrots, peas & corn with a thick veggie gravy to hold it all together, topped with mashed potatoes.  No soya substitute for ground beef and this vegetarian girl was very happy.

Jason had Banger’s & Mash for his main course (I ate his broccoli because he hates it!) and he said it was really good.

Kyle had the Fish & Chips (breaded haddock with a chipotle tartar sauce) and I had a bite and it was delicious!

Overall it was a fantastic meal.  Our server was awesome and on the ball (nice, blonde girl, I forgot her name), the food was fantastic and we all cleaned our plates (which is rare in my case) and we will definitely be back again.

I was very impressed with the new Earl of Whitchurch and we will definitely be back to eat.  Congratulations on the Grand Re-Opening!

 

Riverbend Inn & Vineyard

Last weekend I went on my SambaDays Gourmet Getaway with the Sambassador program to Riverbend Inn & Vineyard in Niagara-On-The-Lake.  I have previously been to Inn On The Twenty in Jordan Station, but never down Niagara-on-the-Lake.  It was Jason’s birthday weekend as well and we had the best time.

Included in this SambaDays package was:

  • One night’s accommodation in a Deluxe guestroom
  • A $25.00 voucher to go towards dinner in our Dining Room
  • Breakfast for 2 in the morning
  • A farewell Riverbend gift upon departure

We turned down the beautiful tree lined driveway to Riverbend around 430pm and immediately felt like we were swept back in time.

The Inn is an old Georgian mansion and it sits in the middle of 12 acres of vineyard.  We were checked in by Linda the Concierge, who was very friendly and helpful.  We asked for info on the area and she told us to come back to see her on our way to dinner and she would put together a little package.

We went straight up to our room and when I opened the door to our beautiful room I was extra excited to see that we had a fireplace!

We relaxed and got ready for our dinner reservation at 6:00pm in the Inn’s dining room.  We were seated at a beautiful little table by the window, which looked out onto the vineyard.

Our server for the evening was Amy, who is the dining room manager and has been with the owners of Riverbend, the Del Ben family, for 18 years.  She used to work at their sister property – the Old Stone Inn (which you can also get with your Gourmet Getaway card).  Amy was also very knowledgeable about the inn, the area and of course, the menu!  She was absolutely fantastic and you can tell she loves her job.  She was very attentive and when she came to check on us/the food she asked “how are the flavours” which was very unique and my goodness, were the flavours ever scrumptious!

We started off with Amy’s recommendation on wine, the 2010 Riverbend Cabernet Saugvignon (Vineyard managed by Klaus Reif of Reif Estate Winery & estate bottled using only Riverbend’s own grapes exclusively) which was absolutely fantastic.

  
So good that we drank a bottle at the table and took a second up to our room for the night! (Please excuse some of the blurriness of the photos, my photographer is learning the fine art of taking pictures of his girlfriend for her blog!)

She then brought us an Amuse Bouche from the chef which was a Crab Salad Tarte and it was delicious.

 

Next we had freshly baked rolls & butter and I had the soup of the day, Celery Root Soup with a Paprika Creme Fraiche.

Jason had the Beef Carpaccio – Thinly Sliced Beef Tenderloin with Shaved Fennel, Arugula in a Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette, Pine Nuts, Shaved Grana Padano, Lemon Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

My soup was the perfect blend of flavours, and Jason’s carpaccio was fantastic.

 

For our main course, I had the Pest & Lobster Risotto – Creamy Italian Style Arborio Rice, Lobster Meat, Pesto, Grana Padano – which was a very unique dish for me to eat and it was delectable.  The perfect amount of lobster and a real treat for this picky vegetarian eater.  (Yes, I know lobster isn’t vegetarian, but I try to eat seafood if I can).

Jason had the Stuffed Grain Fed Chicken Supreme -Woolwich Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Calimyrna Fig Stuffing, Potato Puree & Butter Braised Rapini – and he said it was delicious.

For dessert I had the Creme Brulee (one of my all time favourite desserts) and it was delectable, followed by a Rivebend Coffee (I can’t remember the liquer in it).

Jason had 2 fingers of Crown Royal for dessert, and yes, that’s exactly what he asked for – the equivalent to about 4 shots.

After dinner we wandered back to the lobby (bottle of wine in tow) to chat with Linda and pick up our information.  She gave us a whole package of info, including a history of the Riverbend Inn building and 2 wine tasting tickets for Peller Estates and Trius.  Thank you very much Linda for all your info and help.

Obligatory Fireplace Pose

We went back up to our room, turned on the fireplace and relaxed with a few glasses of wine and some TV.  Then Jason decided he needed some fun, so we headed back down to the dining room to sit at the bar.  We both tried the Oast House beer (Jason a pint, me a half-pint) and he had another shot of Crown Royal.

The bar was closing, so we went for a quick walk around the outside of the inn and then back to our room to polish off the bottle of wine.  We were both exhausted after our day and were asleep at about midnight.

The next morning we woke up and went to breakfast at 930am.  I got a picture of the menu and then we both dove into our meals as soon as they came and I completely forgot to get pictures!  We both got the Country Breakfast (I gave Jason my bacon & sausage) and then we headed back to our room to pack and then down to checkout.

Our farewell gift was a bottle of Riverbend Vineyard 2011 Vidal & Riverbend Truffles.  Of course, we ate the truffles right away, but the wine is chilling for a special occasion aka this weekend 🙂

We had the best time at Riverbend Inn & Vineyard and I highly recommend adding it to your “to do” list.  The inn was gorgeous, the staff were all very knowledgeable, friendly and were happy to be there, and the food & wine… well it was absolutely delicious and one of the highlights of our weekend.

Thank you to SambaDays and the Sambassador program.  I can’t wait for my next adventure!

p.s. For all the photos from our adventure check out my Picasa HERE

Inn on the Twenty Samba Days Sambassador

This weekend I go to go on my first Sambassador experience, which was a getaway to Inn on the Twenty in historic Jordan Village.  It turns out that the available weekend they had was a few days before our 1 year anniversary, so it made the experience even more special.  Included in the package is

  • One night accommodation in a two storey Loft Suite
  • $50 gift card toward dinner
  • Breakfast at On the Twenty restaurant
  • Free makeup application with any spa service at The Spa on the Twenty
  • 15% off all spa services(excludes massage)
  • Complimentary parking
  • Farewell gift 

 

Jason and I headed out to Jordan Village on Saturday afternoon.  The drive should have taken us about an hour and 20 minutes, but it took us over 2 hours to get out of the city due to the Gardiner Expressway being closed!  As soon as we hit the highway though it took us no time at all to get there.  We arrived just after 5pm and pulled into a picturesque little main street, centered around the Inn.  Check in is at 3pm but we called ahead to let them know we’d be late.  They were expecting us and had our room ready and a free wine tasting certificate to use at the Cave Springs Cellar wine tasting bar.

We headed straight across the street to catch the wine tasting before our dinner reservation at 6pm.  We chose the CSV Pinot Noir, the CSV Chardonnay and the CSV Pino Noir Dolomite.  CSV means that the grapes have been planted since 1974 and they hand pick the best clusters for each year.  Jason bought us a bottle of CSV Pinot Noir and we ran back to our room to get dressed for dinner.

Everything is close in Jordan Village and we walked across the street to the On the Twenty restaurant.  They sat us at a table by the window and we spent our dinner looking out across the Twenty Valley.  The atmosphere was relaxed and definitely perfect for my dress.

The food was absolutely delicious.  We started with an Amuse Bouche – a mussel topped with pear and fennel; I had the Truffle Scented Linguini – woodland mushroom ragoût, organic pole beans, parmesan tuile, and Chardonnay cream and Jason had Ontario Heritage Beef Tenderloin – Ontario chanterelle and foie gras ragoût, pommes Anna, cipollini and Cabernet butter and we paired it with a carafe of their CSV Pino Noir Dolemite.  The food was fabulous – Jason says “It was amazing” and he’s got a pretty good palate.  We also commented on the portion sizes because they were perfect, just enough that we both ate our whole meals (for me this is no small feat!).


 

After dinner we went back to the hotel room to taste our bottle of Pino Noir and I got changed again to go for a walk to find the Jordan House Tavern.  There was a haunted house tour happening in the village and there were people dressed up as ghosts hiding all throughout the area.  They definitely scared me seeing someone in the shadows, but we actually had to ask a couple of ghost girls for directions!

The Jordan House Tavern is adjacent to the Jordan House Hotel and “there has been a roadhouse on this site since 1844 and it has hosted everything from church services to vigilante meetings in its history.”  We stopped in for beers, shots and great live music by Jay Maher – who played a great cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My” that made me want to sing it.

After drinks we went back to our cozy loft sweet and drank wine in front of the fireplace before falling asleep in the giant king sized bed – which we absolutely need to get for our house.  I had the best sleep and woke up the next day around 830am – I know, seems early but I’ve been on a crazy schedule lately so this was pretty good.  We went back over to Dine on the Twenty for breakfast which was a mini plate of pastries cornbread muffins, rosemary & cheese tea biscuits, apple danish and a two other pastries we didn’t try, a fresh fruit cup, fresh orange juice, tea or coffee and the choice of a cold cereal meal or hot eggs benedict or eggs florentine.  Of course we had the eggs!  Jason the benedict and I had the florentine.  If you’ve ever eaten breakfast with me you know that I can’t eat runny poached eggs.  They have to be hard or I’ll send them back – but they made the perfect eggs and we both thought their hollandaise sauce was excellent.

From breakfast we went back to our room to relax before our massages at 1030am (this was not included in the SambaDays experience and we splurged and treated ourselves).  I read by the fire for a while – finally getting around to reading Amber Mac’s Power Friending, and then we watched TV up in the loft until our massage therapists knocked on the door.  The massage room was close to ours so we didn’t have to take anything but the keys to our room.

We had massages in the same room and it was amazing.  I almost fell asleep and it was so nice and relaxing.  When we were finished our massages we headed back to our room to fruit, chocolate sauce and a small bottle of merlot.  We took a bunch of photos, packed up our stuff and checked out with Lianne, who was great and helped organize our reservation and services.  She gave us a bottle of their Riesling to take home and off we went to make our way back to the city.

Jason and I both had a really great time at Inn on the Twenty and in the village of Jordan.  It was a fun, relaxing romantic weekend away that was definitely something I would recommend and hope to do again.  I think it’s a great idea to give people a gift of something they can go and do and make memories out of, instead of a material item. I will remember this weekend.

Thank you to Samba Days and the Sambassador program for this awesome experience and to Scott, Lianne and the friendly staff at the Inn on the Twenty.  We’ll definitely be back.

I can’t wait for my next Sambassador experience.  Stay tuned!

For all the photos from our weekend you can check out the gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirty Screens Gettin Cleaned

I am constantly touching my computer screen and it is always covered in fingerprints, smudges, water marks and well it’s usually pretty filthy. My blackberry is the same and there is always makeup smudged on the screen.  (I am actually embarrassed to post this photo of how dirty I let it get)

I’ve tried cleaning them with the cloth for my glasses, windex & paper towel, toilet paper (very bad idea, leaves white pieces).  I was pretty happy to receive Brilliant Screen Wipes in the mail to test out and review.  Its a 2 step process – a wet wipe that cleans all the dirt off and a dry cloth to wipe the screen dry and get any left over smudges.

So I tried them out today to clean my screen and phone and they worked really well.  You would not believe how much dirt came off!  I also used the wet wipe to clean the keyboard and shell of my Mac and it got all the dirt and spills out.  It’s like I have a brand new computer and I’m going to try and keep it this clean in the future.

I’ve got 2 packages (5 sets in a pack) of these screen wipes to give away so if you’d like to receive them leave a comment with the weirdest thing you’ve spilled or done to get your computer or cell phone dirty.

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Something interesting to note.  Because I’m in the US blogging and receiving product from here I have to add a disclosure that the company sends me.  So here it is:

“I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.”

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