Best Anniversary Dinner in Almonte…

What do you do when you have a special occasion to celebrate (like your 39th Wedding Anniversary) and you can’t decide WHICH of your favourite restaurants to celebrate at? You simply choose them ALL! That’s what I planned for our anniversary dinner this year – and we had a blast! It’s called a “Progressive Dinner”, and I made reservations at each of the locations for a one-hour window, and then we were able to walk our way between each of the locations and get the best of everything! I find that sitting down to eat a big meal at a restaurant always leaves me feeling too full, so I was excited to do little samplings at each of the restaurants, with a little “stroll” in between to at least keep moving!

Almonte Riverside Inn & Lobby Bar: Located on Bridge Street, right beside the bridge, the former Judges’ house was converted to an Inn and Lobby Bar several years ago. The Almonte Lobby Bar is a fun spot to stop in for a drink and a bite. Our first stop at the Lobby Bar had Hunter as our cook and Angie playing bartender. (They are also the owners of the Lobby Bar!) We started our anniversary celebration with one of Angie’s signature cocktails – the Jamaican-something-or-other, which Ken LOVED! We shared the Halloumi Caprese Salad and the Mushrooms on Toast – because they were both too delicious to choose only one of.

Café Postino: Our next stop was on Mill Street, in the Old Almonte Post Office. I am a pretty “fussy” wine drinker – I like what I like and I would rather drink water than suffer with a wine that I don’t like! Café Postino often features both a red and white, so I was very happy to find a beautiful full-bodied California Cabernet Sauvignon being offered on our special night. (My back-up would have been a glass of Prosecco!) We were very happy to share a plate of Deep-Fried Calamari. Calories don’t count on anniversaries, just in case you were wondering!

Heirloom Café Bistro: Chef (and owner) Richard Kletnieks was very happy to oblige with our one-hour reservation for a Friday night. Heirloom has also started to feature a seasonal cocktail menu, but Ken was very happy to settle for a glass of Scotch – his favourite drink. We shared a Charcuterie Platter, which featured some beautiful cheeses and meats from Peche et Poivre, our favorite cheese shop in Almonte. It was a perfect sampling of charcuterie.

Joe’s Italian Kitchen: Almonte’s newest restaurant and becoming one of our favourites, is right below Heirloom Café. Not much of a walk between courses but that’s okay. I figured we had several options here. IF we weren’t feeling particularly full of our other courses we could always share one of their delicious pizzas. We have two favourites there – the Joe Pesci or the Sophia Laurent, so we would not be hungry. Alternatively, we could order a cappuccino and share a dessert! And, we decided we were already full of our other courses, so we shared the Panna Cotta dessert and each had a cappuccino.

We had a fantastic evening celebrating and enjoying as many of Almonte’s wonderful restaurants as we could cram into an evening. This was a really fun evening and I would gladly do it again – with a group of friends (and permission from the restaurants too).

If you decide to do an Almonte Date Night Progressive Dinner, feel free share your photos with me on Facebook and Instagram!

Fall Street Market

With the cooler temperatures this week there is no denying that it’s Fall! This means, it’s time for Almonte’s Fall Street Market! The vendors and businesses located on Mill Street in Almonte, come together to host this great event, which features pumpkins, demos, live music, in-store specials, food, refreshments and much, much more! This year, the Fall market will take place on Thursday, October 10th beginning at 5pm. It’s a great way for the whole family to enjoy some classic Almonte fun!

Downtown Almonte hosts Street Markets year-round, 1 per season. The Fall Market is a great way to get into the spirit of fall and Thanksgiving. Hosted just days before Thanksgiving weekend, you’ll be able to stock up on Fall decor & prepare for your family get together. Many of the vendors will have sales and outdoor shopping stations set-up. There are great activities for the little ones as well, including pumpkin painting!

This year’s fall Street Market will include a few new attractions, as well as some local favourites. Included in the line-up will be Korny Klowns, Dairy Distillery and Don’s Meat Market Street Food, just to name a few. As well, a large group of the Mill Street shops will have their doors open and stalls set up outside offering different activities as well as great deals.

The purpose of Almonte’s Street Markets is to promote downtown businesses and local vendors. It’s a great way for our residents and those from neighbouring towns, to come together in a friendly-way and “shop local”. Hosted and funded by a group called “Destination Almonte”, they aim to attract Almonte locals as well as tourists to the wonderful evening. Destination Almonte is comprised mainly of local small businesses who work together to promote our community. They host events throughout the year, including the Street Market nights.

There are a few more potential attractions that may be added to the list this Fall, but, you’ll have to attend this great evening to find out who they are! The event takes place mainly outside, except when you’re indoors shopping, so dress according to weather conditions. It is held rain or shine and admission is free! Head down to Mill Street this Thursday between 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and be sure to share your experience with me on Facebook and Instagram!

Local Pumpkin Farms

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and local pumpkin farms are open and ready for business! A great activity for the whole family is to visit one of these great farms, to enjoy the activities they have to offer, and leave with a car load of pumpkins! Pumpkins make the best fall decor and the best fall treat! There is nothing better than a home-made pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. I’ve put together a list of popular, local farms for you to check out in the next few weeks. Here are the top 5!

Geobern Farms: Located about 15 minutes from Almonte, starting on October the 5th, family’s can visit this great pumpkin patch. Attractions include a corn maze, wagon rides, farm animals and a playstructure. The James family encourages you to bring a picnic as there is lots of green space. Take the time to hike out to their historic “Preaching Rock”. Along with pumpkins, they sell gourds, Indian corn, corn stalks and straw bales, all great for helping you create your fall themed porch vignette. (This has been one of our favourite pumpkin patches over the years, and the little one’s really look forward to the wagon ride through the forest!)

Deugo Pumkins & Gourds: Just outside of Almonte is Deugo Pumpkins & Gourds. A smaller pumpkin patch, but a local favourite. Deugo’s has their wagons set up with all sorts of pumpkins and gourds for a variety of uses and a range of prices. It’s a lot of fun to let everyone in the family choose their own pumpkin to spruce up your front porch for Fall. Along with pumpkins and decor items, Deugo’s offers all sorts of squash! Pick them up locally for approximately 1/2 the price of what you would pay at the grocery store. They also have a great Facebook page with updates and recipes posted frequently.

Saunders Farm: For a true, one-of-a-kind, experience, visit Saunders Farm! They are located a bit further away in Munster Township, but the short trip is sure to be worth it. Saunders is a bit more commercial than some of the smaller pumpkin patches. They often have larger events planned such as Spartacat’s Birthday & Ottawa Senators Day (September 30th), Fright Fest (September 28th – October 31st) and their annual Scaring is Caring event (October 12th). They have over 30 attractions and offer events that are great for kids and adults. Check out their website for more info and ticket prices www.saundersfarm.com. This location is definitely more suited for the older kids in your family!

Scotch Line Farm: Scotch Line farm is one of the newer pumpkin farms around, located just outside of Perth. They have a pick-your-own pumpkin patch as well as a variety of pre-picked pumpkins ready for purchase! For the kids, they offer wagon rides every hour. They have a wonderful farm store where you can find handmade products, home baked goods as well as ground beef and sausages from their Red Angus cattle raised on the farm. This farm also makes a great setting for those fall family photos you’ve been planning!

Needham’s Market Garden: Starting in late August, Needham’s pumpkins are ready to go! They have a variety of different types of pumpkins including different shapes, sizes and colours. Not only does Needham’s offer pumpkins, they have a wide variety of seasonal products, canned goods, locally made products and their very own fruit wine! Opening soon this year is their Market Garden Maze. Visit this local attraction daily from 8am-4pm or, they also offer an exciting glow stick maze open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from dusk until 9pm. Needham’s Market Garden store is open daily from 8:00am – 6:00pm from May until the end of October. You’ll find Needham’s on highway 29 in between Arnprior and Pakenham.

There you have it! The top 5, local, pumpkin patches. Any of these farms will be sure to please and would make the perfect fall outing for you and your family. Do you have a favourite local pumpkin patch? Be sure to share your experience with me on Facebook and Instagram!

Mill of Kintail

One of Mississippi Mills hidden gems is the Mill of Kintail. Part of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, the Mill of Kintail offers a great outdoor experience and is located just minutes from Almonte. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon with the family, take your dog for a walk or just get out and enjoy the out of doors!

The Mill has many things to offer in all 4 seasons. During the winter months, take advantage of the various cross country ski trails that loop throughout the conservation area. In the warmer months, the trails are great for walking! The total length of trails is 6.5km. They are open all year round from dawn until dusk. Additionally, there are picnic areas as well as play structures, great for kids. In the warmest months of the year, dip your feet into the beautiful Indian River which is easily accessible and perfect for the young explorers of the family. Also located on the grounds is the R. Tait McKenzie Memorial Museum. Tour through the museum where you’ll find special exhibits, artisan demonstrations and workshops for visitors of all ages. Check out the Mill of Kintail’s facebook page to stay up-to-date on activities, events and workshops taking place.

Throughout the summer months, children ages 6-11 can attend summer camp which features hands-on learning and environmental leadership programming. Each day of this unique camp focuses on a different theme related to the natural environment. Camps run throughout July and August and are a week long. Visit mvc.on.ca/wildlife-watchers-summer-day-camp/ for more information on how to register your child.

Looking for the perfect spot to host your outdoor wedding or large group event? The Mill os Kintail is available to rent. It is the ideal spot to take photos, with the natural environment, mature trees, river and picturesque 1830 Nepean sandstone grist mill (now the Museum). Just minutes from Almonte, Pakenham and a short commute from Carleton Place, Arnprior and Kanata, it’s location is a great central meeting place.

The Mill of Kintail is full of nature, history and family friendly fun. Visit one of Lanark County’s 7 wonders for an unforgettable experience. I’d love to hear about your experiences at this local attraction. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to share your stories and photos with me!

Best Places to Host a Birthday Party…

Now that the kids are back to school there will be invitations to birthday parties… lots of invitations! You may even be planning a party for your own child. It seems that in recent years party plans have become more elaborate and sophisticated, with taking all the parties to a movie-theatre and then out for a meal.

There are lots of great local options, that don’t have to break the bank, and yet will leave the birthday boy or girl feeling duly celebrated and ensure that the guests have a good time as well.

Carleton Place Swimming Pool: Most kids love to swim, and the CP Swimming Pool has a “party package” that allows you to bring up to 25 guests (includes 2 life-guards) for an hour for $188.75 plus the party-room rental for $32.50 for 1 hour. You provide your own food and snacks – and this is a great way to tire out the birthday guests with some physical activity. https://carletonplace.ca/pool-and-beach.phpChasin’ Turkeys Bowling Alley: Looking for something a little slower-paced or a little less physical? Chasin’ Turkeys is located on Bridge Street in Carleton Place. Under new ownership since 2018, they now offer several “party packages” from #1 – Hot Dog Package for $195 + HST for 8 guests; to #2 1-Slice Pizza Party also for $195 + HST for 8; to #3 2-Slice Pizza Party at $220 + HST for 8 guests. This is a great birthday idea, for a variety of ages! https://www.chasinturkeys.ca/Kids World: Located on Industrial Avenue in Carleton Place, is a great option for a birthday party with kids of various ages. (We started a birthday celebration there with a 60-year-old-birthday-boy… just sayin!) With a combination of trampolines, softplay for little ones, wall climbing and a select few virtual reality games (not my favourite!), they offer 3 different party packages – Silver, Gold or Platinum. http://www.kidsworldcp.ca/

For Teens: Depending on the age of your teen, there are many great suggestions of at-home themed parties, that with a little imagination and creativity, will have all the guests enjoying themselves. Reality Television Shows such as Survivor or Fear Factor or American Ninja Warrior provide a great theme for a birthday party. The internet, including Google and Etsy, provide excellent party plans including menu suggestions.

For Adults: A current popular trend is the Escape Room games, where guests are teamed up to solve a mystery and get themselves out of a locked room in a timed period by solving clues collectively. While there are many Escape Room venues in the city, the Diefenbunker is much closer to home (in Carp) and promises to offer an affordable and fun evening. Guests can reconvene at The Swan Pub for some nibbles and drinks afterwards to discuss the evening and continue the party. http://diefenbunker.ca/en/Home Party with Games: Back in the old days, well at list in the 1960’s – 1990’s, the way we used to celebrate a birthday party was to host it at home, with a few party games like Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey or Pass the Parcel or Memory Recount (look at a tray of items for 45 seconds and then write down all the items you remember). The games would be followed with lunch or a snack, cake, opening the gifts and then send the party-goers home with a loot bag.

I’d love to hear about your favourite birthday-party celebration locally. Be sure to share with me on Facebook or Instagram!

Back to School – Back to School Lunch Ideas (that work for Mom or Dad’s lunch too!)

The summer is nearing an end and kids are heading back to school this week! There is a lot to get organized and creating new and exciting lunch ideas for your children is one of them.

The first step in the process is to get some great, functional, containers for packing lunches. An all in one box with separate compartments works best. This way, you can send a variety of different foods with your child. It will also cut down on the dishes each night and eliminate the use of small baggies or plastic wrap. A “bento” style container with an easy open lid is what you should be looking for.

There are plenty of great lunch options available. Here are some of my favourite nut-free, sandwich free options:

Cream Cheese & Cucumber Roll-Ups: These are super easy to make, and easily made into bite sized pieces. Spread cream cheese and thing cucumber slices over a wrap, roll it up, and slice horizontally creating small circles. Add some apples slices, yogurt and pretzel pieces into the lunch box and your all set!

Classic Ham & Cheese Sandwich: Ham, cheese and a bit of lettuce make a great sandwich for kids. You can get creative as well and use any cookie cutter you may have to cut the sandwich into a fun shape! Pair this with strawberry slices, crackers and a healthy granola bar. “Made Good” brand makes a great kids granola bar, as well as granola balls & cookies, which are nut-free.

Crackers & Cheese: Kids love crackers and cheese! I would also add some meat slices. Pepperoni is great for children to make their own mini sandwiches. Grapes always go nicely with crackers and cheese. To finish it up, add in an apple sauce or yogurt.

Savoury Muffins: A great savoury muffin option is “Pizza Muffins” (recipe found here: https://www.myfussyeater.com/pizza-lunchbox-muffins/). These are perfect for lunches and great to prep ahead of time. You can throw them in the freezer and take out as needed. Pack 2 of these, along with some veggie slices, berries and a few gluten-free animal cookies. Tip: there are plenty more savoury muffin recipes available on Pinterest! They’re great for adult meal prep as well.

Naan Triangles & Hummus: This lunch can be a great dairy free option! Cut up some naan bread into triangles, making it easy to dip, and add a small container of hummus (or guacamole). Carrot & pepper slices are perfect to add because they are great with hummus as well. To stay totally dairy & peanut free, combine this with your child’s favourite “Made Good” granola bar or apple sauce.

The start of school is always a bit hectic; back to school shopping, organizing your pick-up and drop-off schedule, signing up for extra-curricular activities.. AHHH!!! This list will hopefully help to get you started this school year. With a little pre-planning, some organization and a good list of ideas, prepping things on Sunday night is a great way to make the rest of the week a little less stressful.

The Good Food Tour – Carleton Place

Carleton Place has become home to a variety of wonderful restaurants. Similar to the Good Food Tour in Almonte, this is a great way for new residents and locals alike to experience all of the culinary offerings of beautiful Carleton Place. The tour also provides great history on the area and the first people to settle in Carleton Place. The tour itself is 3 hours long and features 7 local business in 5 locations along Bridge Street.

Where will you stop along the tour? The tour starts towards the end of Bridge Street at the Stalwart Brewing Company where you’ll enjoy their refreshing craft beer paired with various meats and cheeses from local butcher, the Beckwith Butcher as well as some delicious desserts from the Beckwith Kitchen. A few blocks away located directly on the Mississippi River is popular Boulton House. One of the newer restaurants in town, Boulton House has an extensive menu offering a variety of gourmet dishes. Next, you’ll walk down to the Black Tartan where Chef Ian will prepare tastings of his French Bistro dishes. Another short walk will bring you to the Smith & Barrel Pub located in the Grand Hotel. The Old-English inspired decor in this beautiful pub is truly one-of-a-kind. The tour finishes up at The Good Food Company where you’ll taste some of its special desserts.

You’ll walk a total of about 1.5-2kms at a leisurely pace throughout the afternoon with breaks to sit at most locations. The tour is held in all weather conditions, so dress appropriately! Special requests can be made ahead of time and tour organizers do their best to accommodate dietary restrictions.

The Good Food Tour is a wonderful way to experience your community. If you’re new to the area, it will give you a great taste for what’s available around town. Or, maybe you’ve lived in Carleton Place for years and are looking for the perfect date or group outing for entertaining your out of town guests! Gift certificates are also available for purchase which are great for housewarming parties, clients, family and friends. For more information on The Good Food Tour in Carleton Place, visit their very informative website at: https://thegoodfoodtour.com/bites-on-bridge-street.

If you participate in the tour, be sure to share your experiences with me on Facebook and Instagram. Enjoy!

 

Best Picnic Spots in Lanark County

Picnics are a great weekend activity which the whole family can enjoy! There are many locations around Lanark County which are perfect for enjoying a picnic lunch (or dinner!) If the weather is right, pack up your family, and meal, and head out to one of these great local spots!

The Mill of Kintail: Located just 5 minutes from Almonte, the Mill of Kintail is a wonderful spot for a family picnic. There are a number of different walking trails throughout the conservation area as well as a beautiful stream that is perfect for dipping your toes in on those hot summer days. There area includes a play structure and basketball court, picnic tables and a gazebo.

The Almonte Beach: Located at the Almonte Fairgrounds, the beach is in the heart of Almonte on the Mississippi River. There is a designated swimming area, and the beach does have lifeguards on duty throughout the summer months. There are covered picnic tables, great for picnics, as well as change rooms if you decide to go for a swim! Feel free to launch your canoe, kayak or paddle board here as well.

The Baird Trail, Lanark Highlands: Offering a .8km circular trail system, The Baird Trail is about 15 minutes from Almonte in Lanark Highlands. There are points along the trail that are marked and offer ecological information. There is a beautiful wetland in the middle of the property with a boardwalk, great for seeing turtles, frogs and birds. After you’ve experienced the trail, you can head back out to the parking area where there is a great picnic spot along with clean washrooms.

We are extremely fortunate to have so many beautiful, local areas where we can experience and enjoy the out of doors with our families. It is always an adventure when visiting any of these great locations. What type of wildlife will you see? Will you run in to other people along the way? Will you find any “nature treasures”? I’d love to hear about your favourite local picnic spots. Be sure to share with me on Facebook and Instagram!

The Good Food Tour – Almonte

Small town Almonte has much to offer in terms of food and drink. The Good Food Tour gives you a wonderful look into quality offerings that can be found locally. There are currently 3 tours running, 2 in Almonte and 1 in Carleton Place. Each tour in Almonte will take you to multiple different locations where you’ll get to learn how that entrepreneur’s food and/or drink is created. You’ll then, of course get to sample the finished product!

There 2 different tours offered in Almonte are the:

Down By The River Tour: This drink-friendly tour begins at the Crooked Mile Brewery on the edge of town. You’ll pair the British-style craft beer with neighbouring Equator Coffee Roasters Gourmet Pizza. Next you’ll move on to the Dairy Distillery, where you’ll sample uniquely crafted “Vodcow” and tour their stunning distillery. Part 2 of this tour, takes place in the older part of town where you’ll experience delectably pastries surrounded by the fine arts at Sivarulrasa Art Gallery. You’ll then walk up the street to the Mill Street Crepe Company and finally you’ll finish with tea and scones at the Tea & Cake Tea Room.

Downtown Meets Uptown Tour: This particular tour does not offer any alcoholic beverages, but you will definitely finish up feeling full! The tour starts at Equator Coffee Roaster’s where you’ll taste their locally roasted, organic, fair trade coffee and learn about their roasting process. Next, you’ll move on to award-winning Hummingbird Chocolate. Once back in the old part of town, you’ll visit Peches & Poivre for some artisanal cheeses and then make your way to the Mill Street Crepe Company for a delicious french crepe. This tour finishes at the Tea & Cake Tea Room where you’ll enjoy tea and scones.

The tour is perfect for new residents of Almonte as well as locals looking for a new way to experience their home town. The tours are also a great gift option. You are able purchase gift certificates directly from their website. Almonte is a wonderful little town with so many hidden gems. An event such as this one can uncover many great places and entrepreneurs that even locals may be unaware exist! Check out The Good Food Tour website for more information: https://thegoodfoodtour.com/

Farmer’s Market Carleton Place

Have you had a chance to visit the Carleton Place Farmer’s Market yet?? Located in the Market Square on the corner of Beckwith and Lake Avenue East in Carleton Place, it is a wonderful place to visit on Saturday mornings. The market is open every Saturday from mid-May until Thanksgiving from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. They have a wonderful variety of vendors including those selling fresh fruits and veggies, herbs and a variety of prepared foods. You can even attend the free yoga class from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. held every Saturday.

Some of the great people you’ll meet each week are:

Paul the Master Gardener: Do you have questions about gardening?? This is the perfect opportunity to discuss with an expert! Paul is available to chat with you about all of your gardening needs. Feel free to stop in and visit with Paul any Saturday this season!

Hamsa Yoga presents Yoga at the Market: Join Hamsa Yoga for a relaxing Saturday morning yoga practice held on the grounds just next to the Farmer’s Market. This great, free event is perfect for all levels of Yogi’s. Start your day off with a practice and then head over to visit your favourite vendors under the Market Square.

Raj’s Indian Kitchen: A tasty addition to the Farmer’s Market! Offering a wide variety of traditional Indian cuisine, many of their items are gluten-free and/or vegan. Raj’s has a great selection of menu items that changes weekly. Check out their Facebook page to stay updated on what their menu will be each Saturday.

Beckwith Berries: During Strawberry season, Beckwith Berries will be at the Market offering freshly picked, local strawberries. Beckwith Berries is known for their local strawberry farm and “pick-your-own” option. Leave the picking to them! They’ll be at the Market with baskets full of pre-picked berries. A tasty treat during the summer!

Path Back Farms: Offering chemical and pesticide-free organic vegetables, Path Back Farms is located between Almonte & Carleton Place. They offer a 16-week farm share as well as their weekly offerings of eggs & veggies which they bring to the market.

The Carleton Place Farmer’s Market has evolved over the years. It is a great addition to Downtown. They do take on new vendors yearly, so, if you’re interested in being a vendor be sure to check out their website: https://cpfarmersmarket.wordpress.com/. Don’t miss out on visiting this great Market! They do have unique event’s most weekends so be sure to check them out on Facebook weekly.